US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a bilateral meeting in Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013.
Photo by Jewel Samad/Getty

Two leaders, two countries, two international standings

For many Republicans, there are some basic truths about international perceptions. President Obama, they assume, is not well respected abroad, while Russia’s Vladimir Putin is seen as tough and impressive.
 
Last year, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson wrote a column on how impressed he is with Putin, and argued, “Russians seem to be gaining prestige and influence throughout the world as we are losing ours.”
 
With this in mind, the Pew Research Center has published a couple of helpful reports of late. In June, Pew’s “Global Attitudes & Trends” study found that impressions of the United States are up around the world – much improved over the findings from the Bush/Cheney era – and President Obama is an especially popular figure across much of the globe.
 
And this week, the Pew Research Center released related findings on Russia and Putin. Ben Carson may want to pay particular attention to the results.
Outside its own borders, neither Russia nor its president, Vladimir Putin, receives much respect or support, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A median of only 30% see Russia favorably in the nations outside of Russia. Its image trails that of the United States in nearly every region of the world.
 
At the same time, a median of only 24% in the countries surveyed have confidence in Putin to do the right thing in world affairs, and there is far less faith in the Russian leader than there is in U.S. President Barack Obama.
If this makes it sound as if Republicans have described the entire dynamic backwards, that’s because they have.
 
Remember, it was just last year when American conservatives effectively adopted Putin as one of their own. Rudy Giuliani said of the Russian autocrat, “That’s what you call a leader.” Mitt Romney proclaimed, “I think Putin has outperformed our president time and time again on the world stage.” A Fox News personality went so far as to say she wanted Putin to temporarily serve as “head of the United States.”
 
But by international standards, the GOP rhetoric seems quite foolish.
In all regions of the world, Putin’s image fares quite poorly compared with public perception of U.S. President Barack Obama. Three-quarters of Europeans have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Only 15% have such faith in Putin. By more than two-to-one, publics in Africa, Asia and Latin America trust Obama more than Putin.
So, what do you say, conservatives? Ready to admit your Putin adulation was misplaced?
 

Barack Obama, Polling, Russia and Vladimir Putin

Two leaders, two countries, two international standings