Our 'smart' foreign policy making us less popular

Sure is nice to have smart people in charge of our foreign policy again. Once again, we are popular and respected around the world thanks to the bold leadership of our president.

At least, we were. Not so much now.


Worldwide approval of U.S. leadership dipped considerably during President Barack Obama's fourth year in office -- but it increased in some countries, including Mexico, according to a poll Wednesday.

The median approval rating for U.S. leadership for 130 countries was 41 percent in 2012, down 8 percentage points from the 49 percent approval during Obama's first year in office, Gallup found - noting the America's standing is still generally higher than it was during President George W. Bush's final years in office.

Gallup asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?"

"This shift suggests that the president and the new secretary of state may not find global audiences as receptive to the U.S. agenda as they have in the past. In fact, they may even find even once-warm audiences increasingly critical," Gallup's Julie Ray wrote.

In Mexico, U.S. leadership had a 37 percent approval -- an 11 percentage point increase from 2011, according to Gallup.

"Some of the increase may stem from Mexicans' optimism about future U.S.-Mexican relations after Obama welcomed then-President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto to the White House in late November 2012 and pledged cooperation on trade and immigration reform," Ray wrote.

In Europe, U.S. leadership dipped from 42 percent in 2011 to 36 percent for last year.

Ray wrote that the data suggests that "the U.S. was likely shouldering some of the blame for the ongoing financial crisis in Europe."

Despite the lower numbers, U.S. approval ratings for the most part remain stronger than they were at the end of the last Bush administration, Gallup said.

Those are still dismal numbers even if they are higher than Bush's score. It is hardly an accomplishment to beat the numbers of George Bush anyway. What matters is that even with the support of the world left, Obama is not very popular overseas. Subsuming American interests in favor of collective action may please the UN crowd, but others see a weakened US that makes the world a more dangerous place.

And that's what "smart" gets us.