In a poll taken August 11-25, YouGov, a Cambridge University ‘Think Tank,’ submitted questions to 12,693 adults in the U.S., Britain, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and China to assess the state of the American presidential election in November and the perceptions and attitudes relative to President Obama and Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. It should be noted that this poll was conducted before the party conventions as well as before the current violent demonstrations now raging in 11 Muslim nations and the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Cairo, Libya, Yemen and today in Sudan. Full details have not yet emerged in the Benghazi, Libya American Consulate Attack (Video), where American Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
It is now suspected by American intelligence analysts to have possibly been a planned terrorist assault…timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks in America, rather than arising spontaneously as public anti-American demonstrations resulting from the Internet anti-Muslim film trailer, which triggered the earlier Cairo embassy attack. Indeed, Libyans have largely expressed gratitude toward America and the West for helping wrest them from the grip of decades of oppression by Muammar Gaddafi and our Ambassador Stevens was a popular figure there – having served as our liaison with the rebel forces - before being named ambassador once they gained independence.
While there was little antipathy expressed (yet) toward the prospect of a Romney Presidency in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, the sentiment in Britain and Europe presented a starkly different picture. Of course, Britain is our closest ally and it – and nearly all of the nations of Europe – are members of our strongest military alliance, NATO and accordingly – more important militarily and economically to American interests in the world.
Of course, the folks at Fox News and American conservatives at-large always denigrate the importance of all things and anything European. But – in the “real world” – Europe matters a great deal to American interests at every level of diplomacy, economics and trade. Like it, or not Republicans…we are intertwined. Since coming on the world stage in 2008, President Obama has been well received as a welcome change from the military adventurism that marked the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency and the decade-long Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
As reported by one of Britain’s premier news media sources, The Guardian, on September 11th, the poll was taken in advance of a September 2012 forum titled: “Reputation in the Age of Protest.” According to The Guardian poll results:
The reputation of the US in Europe risks sinking back to Bush-era levels of unpopularity if Mitt Romney becomes president, according to new international polling published on Tuesday. Only around one in 20 of those surveyed in Britain, France and Germany by YouGov held a positive view of the Republican presidential nominee.
Forty-seven percent of UK respondents said a Romney victory would make them feel less favourable towards the US, and only 3% would make them feel more favourable.
That sentiment was mirrored in Germany and France, where only 4% and 5% respectively said that he would make them feel more favourable towards the US. In Germany, 48% said it would make them feel less favourable and in France 38%.
It is uncertain how the violent events this past week, throughout the Muslim world, would impact these perceptions. However, Mitt Romney’s misfiring and misstatements over the violence and failure to condemn the anti-Muslim film do not bode well for his standing or credibility on foreign policy. Indeed, his self-inflicted errors may actually serve to even damage the better feelings toward him heretofore expressed by non-Europeans relative to a possible Romney presidency.
While the poll will likely have little impact on American voters or sway the outcome of our presidential election in November, it is – nonetheless – worth noting that the populations of our most important geopolitical allies already take a dim view of the Republican presidential candidate and, this may – if he is elected – pose serious foreign policy challenges to a potential Romney/Ryan Administration.
The current foreign policy challenges posed by the ongoing crisis and violent protests in the Muslim world have already presented President Obama and his administration with a very ‘tricky situation’. Do the American People now want to ‘change horses in mid-stream’ and take a gamble on an unproven, untested Mitt Romney and elect a candidate surrounded by Neo-conservatives, blustering for military adventurism in places like Syria and Iran, as well as pursuing a more aggressive prosecution of the war in Afghanistan?