An Analysis by Bruce Stokes
AFPEuropeans, led by the Germans, are no longer the huge fans of President Barack Obama that they used to be. Germans were ecstatic when Barack Obama took over the keys to the White House from George W. Bush. Now, though, a new Pew Research Center survey shows that disillusionment with the US president is widespread in Germany and that Obama has not lived up to the high expectations Europeans had of him.
Frustrations with Obama Mounting
Most notable, however, is the sizable gender gap in Germany on drone strikes. While 54 percent of German men approve of such activities, only 24 percent of women do. A male-female differential of that magnitude is rarely seen in public opinion.
Moreover, there is grave German disappointment with Obama’s handling of climate change. In 2009, the Pew Research Center asked Germans if they thought that the newly-elected president would get the US to take significant measures to control global climate change. At the time, 76 percent said he would. Now only 26 percent say he has. Only the French among Europeans had higher expectations. And only the French have been as disappointed.
In retrospect, hopes for an Obama presidency were unrealistically high, especially among Europeans. There was little Obama-bounce for the American image outside of Europe after Obama’s election. And while there was significant improvement around the world in the approval of the US president in the wake of the transition from Bush to Obama, only in China and Japan did the new wunderkind’s popularity reach European levels.
Reality was unlikely to live up to these expectations. And it has not. The real global public opinion story as Obama heads into a re-election campaign may be just how long the Obama honeymoon with the Europeans, including the Germans, lasted. Nevertheless, this new survey suggests frustrations with Obama and the United States are mounting. And leaders in Berlin, Washington and elsewhere need to be cognizant of their implications, especially if the American people give Obama a second term.