The world votes!

The world votes!
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It seems to happens every time the White House is up for grabs. Some enterprising media outlet (usually British) heads out into the big wide world seeking an answer to that perennial question no one in particular is asking — who would citizens of various foreign countries pick to occupy the US presidency if given the chance?

The motives behind such thought exercises are hardly subtle. America is the world’s sole superpower, after all, and decisions made in Washington, be they economic or diplomatic, cultural or military, reverberate around the globe. Foreign lives are changed, enriched, ruined or lost through the exercise of presidential power — so kindly forgive the rest of the planet if they happen to have strong opinions regarding who should hold it.

I mean, we all remember how large “global opinion” loomed in the background of the Bush years in particular; his worldly unpopularity, linked chiefly to his war in Iraq, chilled international alliances, led to stagnation at the United Nations, and resulted in many-a awkward conversation for American college kids backpacking across Europe. In those days there was very little ambiguity about the wishes of the theoretical global electorate; the planet wanted anyone but Dubya.

But now that he’s gone, how fares Obama?

The little-known Global Post released a fascinating little survey the other day, interviewing 100 foreigners in 20 different countries, asking each individual a series of questions about their White House preference, as well as their suggestions for American political priorities in the year 2012 and beyond. They traveled to every continent and spoke to individuals representing all the world’s  ethnicities, faiths, and social classes, from Burma to Brazil, from Egypt to Israel. It was perhaps the most ambitious poll of its kind ever attempted.

And my god, what a lot of ignorant nonsense they got in return.

Given the choice between Obama and Romney, almost all the foreigners chose Obama, as you might stereotypically expect, but few answers reveal even the barest shred of political literacy — let alone insight.

Many endorse the president simply because he’s the incumbent, and thus the only American politician they’re remotely familiar with. Many more admit openly they know virtually nothing about his opponent (some not even his name; a Pakistani calls him “McRomney“), while others profess ignorance as to what Obama himself has been up to lo these last four years. Tons applaud him for simply being black, which they regard as a charming American novelty, others for embodying some hazy ideal of “freshness” after eight years of Bush.

A few denounce the conservatism of the Republican Party as something inherently at odds with their home nation’s progressive sensibilities, even when they themselves live in countries that have either recently elected conservative governments (ie, Canada, Germany, or Britain) or otherwise inhabit societies whose extremely regressive cultures would never allow the emergence of a politician supporting the things Obama does (a Nigerian, for instance, endorses Obama before viciously denouncing same-sex marriage — which of course Obama himself supports).

Among those whose familiarity with American affairs is slightly less superficial, a large number praise Obama for being considerably less war-like or belligerent than his Republican rival. Many are explicitly of the opinion that “war” (full stop) is always bad, as is “telling other countries what to do” — values they hold to be the central principles of the GOP. Never mind the question as to whether or not Obama has actually been measurably less warmongery or bossy than his predecessor, the naiveté is stark and unforgiving. No one offers even the slightest sympathy towards the idea that America has a right to battle terrorist networks dominated by angry men trying to kill Americans, presumably because it’s not their citizens in the cross-hairs (though it often is). It’s always easiest to judge that which is furthest removed from your own experience, and considering how many countries barely have militaries at all these days, the sweeping judgment of American militarism is really a lot less thoughtful than such critics like to imagine.

There are some fair commentators, of course. Many westerners like Obama’s health care reforms for obvious reasons, and more than a few third-worlders are impressively aware of actual, specific initiatives the Obama government has pursued to better the lives of their countrymen. But overall, it’s hard to escape the impression that the vast bulk of global opinion on the American presidential contest is exceedingly  ill-informed, superficial, knee-jerk, and chauvinistic — and thus fairly worthless.

Progressive-minded Americans have long fetishized the supposed inherent wisdom and common-sense of foreigners to the point where it’s practically a shibboleth of 21st century liberalism — we may remember that Senator Kerry even made “respected in the world” one of the co-slogans of his 2004 campaign. Certainly we in Canada experienced the full force of lefty American veneration during the Bush years, when at times it seemed every Hollywood liberal was either threatening to move here or at least churning out some blockbuster documentary about our utopia of free medicine and unlocked doors. Foreigners, in turn, tend to happily egg on such praise, vainly wallowing in the smug self-righteousness that comes with possessing all of America’s “right answers.”

But foreigners, it seems, are ultimately more like Americans than they know, passive and disinterested in the complexity and detail of American politics, with the little they do know often shaped by superficial cliches and patriotic tropes every bit as thoughtless as those spouted by the Tea Party or Sarah Palin or whatever other odious totem of American excess they enjoy mocking behind Uncle Sam’s back. The tone might be different, but “there should be no wars” isn’t that different from “taxed enough already” as far functionally useful political insights go.

It’s no one’s fault, really. Politics, particularly foreign politics, is daunting, confusing, and boring, and foreigners have as much right to find it so as the hundred million Americans who almost certainly won’t cast a ballot on November 6 (or cast their ballots based on some dopey thing like sex appeal or conspiracy theories).

That, more than any “global mandate” for Obama is the real truth that mock-elections like the Global Post‘s, reveal.

When it comes to electing the wrong person for all the wrong reasons, Americans really don’t need any help.


  1. lukev

    If they truly understood what the GOP currently stands for, exceedingly few non-Americans could possibly relate to it. Even conservatives who might have fit right in 10 years ago. The Tea Party ideals are so entrenched in American mythology that it is nonsensical everywhere else.

    That's not to say Romney wouldn't be a popular candidate overseas, but shapeshifter's current incarnation would be.

  2. Virgil

    And what exactly would it be that Tea Partiers support that makes them fundamentally different from, say, 1980's conservatives?

  3. Trenacker

    I wasn't old enough to remember much of the 1980s, but if I had to start digging into that question from a point of view of ignorance, I'd ask the following, starting off:

    1. Did conservatives of the 1980s venerate the Founding Fathers to the same degree?

    2. Was the backlash against taxes as severe as it is today? It is my sense that we have moved steadily closer to a proverbial cliff as taxes get lower but our appetite for government austerity remains consistent.

    I think, too, that the Tea Party has probably been able to move more strongly on issues that, while alive in the 1980s, were at a different stage of maturity. Gay rights were in their infancy. Affirmative action was probably more the battleground at that time.

    The irony is that 1970s conservatives were the first to develop the embryonic ideas that would later inform Romneycare. I don't know what the mindset was a decade later.

    I also think that the Tea Party is substantially motivated by racism, both conscious and sub-conscious. By a strong and persistent recognition, at the most basic of levels, that Obama is physically different, and by an equally strong conviction that his values must therefore be different, explaining the relatively large Birther movement and the struggles of folks like Dinesh D'Souza to locate that difference in animus toward the United States — which is really a manifestation of what has sometimes been called "White Guilt" in a new guise, as far as I can tell. That is, where once (white, middle-class) liberals were accused of backing social programming out of a supposedly misplaced sense of obligation to minorities, conservatives might be accused of fearing that the president has grievances that they believe are typical of people of color (and potentially even legitimate), and that the president will enact redistribution as a means of "historical correction."

  4. Jake_Ackers

    I don't think it's racism. Racial? Unlikely too. Because Cain, Condi Rice, Alan West, Rubio all are loved by the Tea Party. I think its more just taxpayers vs. people who live off gov't. Which tend to be the urban poor which then tend to be black, so it seems racial. That accounts for the economic Tea Party people. Then you get the poor white southerns who use plenty of gov't programs. Why do they support the Tea Party? Frankly, it's because of social issues which I think is the overriding factor.

    Overall the Tea Party was just people being mad at gov't and it all adding up with the downturn in the economy. If the Tea Party is racist then the Occupy Wall Street is just bigoted and hates rich people. I'm sure there are racists in the Tea Party and bigoted people in the OWS. But those I believe are fewer than the media makes it seem like.

    But I do agree the point about social issues today. I think we are seeing a huge part of the electorate who are worried that the values this country is based on are going down the tubes. You can see it with the reduction in the amount of people calling themselves religious and the place of religion in law/gov't/society. I think in large part the Tea Party and Occupy WS are all reacting to an economic downturn regardless if the President is black or not. Things like the Tea Party are nothing new nor is the OWS. Look at the progressive movement back in the day. The 1920s one. Once the economy recovers and we have no more bailouts, the OWS and Tea Party will be a lot smaller force in politics.

  5. Jake_Ackers

    1980s was libertarian to a degree and more economic. Reagan himself was pretty open to gay rights and rarely talked about social issues. What's the saying? The election of 1964 took 16 years to count the votes and Reagan won.

  6. Virgil

    I'm not sure that the Tea Party isn't more libertarian, but aside from that I would agree with your points Jake. I've often said that if you really want to get rid of the tea party balance the budget. The racism argument always struck me as mere rhetoric rather than a reflective opinion.

    Regarding the 80's: I think it was the same movement. Goldwater started it, Reagan won it with a smile, and the basic proposition behind both was to try to get the government off everyone's back. A lot of these people who weren't enamored with social conservatism backed Perot in 1992, and felt comfortable with Clinton…the Liberal-tarian. They thought they got another Clinton in Obama….and found that instead they got another LBJ (or if you prefer…RFK finally won his election.)

  7. Jake_Ackers

    Thumps up. Love the RFK bit. Exactly though Obama is not Bill Clinton. The Dems will never run a Clinton simply because they won't accept a moderate on abortion. Evan Bayh would have a tough time unless the Republicans have dominated the White House for a few elections. IE: Run Clinton to get rid of HW.

  8. @undefined

    I remember seeing something similar back in 2008 in the form of some online poll. Obama swept every country except like one.

  9. Jake_Ackers

    The USA was that one. LOL. How ironic. Obama won the election but when it was polled, McCain was only winning the US. Personally I was pissed me off how much the rest of the world commented on it. I know it affects them but considering they aren't Americans, not many are picking based on the fact they want the person who would do the best job for the US. But who would just make it easier for their country to be better. I would like for them to define what actually is " who would be better" or "why do you prefer this person."

    Most people would think Obama would solve world hunger and bring world peace or something (IE: Nobel Peace Prize." t I wonder what are the true motivations behind these "world voters" picks whether it's Obama or McCain/Romney. JJ has pointed the clear point. People are ignorant. Actually most voters are ignorant. Just ask any person on the street who they are voting for and why. Wouldn't be much better than what JJ has written about.

  10. Dryhad

    I had a glance over some of the responses and I'm not sure it's as bad as J.J. makes out. Most people seem to be stuck with the problem of any two party system of necessarily only picking the lesser of two evils. For example, you see people in the Middle East who quite understandably see the war on their doorsep as the most important issue, but some support Obama because Romney is a Republican and they started the wars, and some support Romney because Obama hasn't ended the war. Can you fault either viewpoint?

  11. Jake_Ackers

    Agreed. Considering the garbage media we have and the internet is filled with an overwhelming amount of crackpot blogs and half baked analysis. Most people won't have access to true independent journalism or are even able to be truly informed. And then you have most people of these countries are too poor to have some real journalism (lack of TV or internet). Or live in a country with no freedom of speech thus meaning no internet or just some biased TV channel. Which all results in: Republican = Bush = Devil. Romney = Republican = Bush = Devil. Heck, just tune into MSNBC and you get pretty much most of the equation.

    And knowing that a lot of people in the Middle East think the prophet insult film was approved by the US gov't makes my point.

  12. Dryhad

    I love how you said "agreed" and then followed it with the complete opposite of what I said.

  13. ThePsudo

    You're earning your "cynic" label with this one, JJ.

    Among the few things about American culture that Europe, Japan, etc. have no domestic parallel is the American tradition of loose party leadership. In Europe, if you disagree with your party you split off to form a new party. In the USA, if you disagree with your party you tell the press and start an internal faction within the party. From Berry Goldwater to Ron Paul, we like our non-conformists. Granted, I don't know every part y in every country; I'm sure there are some similar examples buried in world history outside of the USA, but it's sure not typical.

  14. Jake_Ackers

    Japan kind of has it. Since the LDP is dominated politics in Japan for so long the party internally fights out. Ie: it forms a new faction even though there can be many parties in Japan.

    Very few countries use our dual federalism model and even fewer have a first past the post kind of voting system. Brazil is the closest but uses a 2 round voting system.

  15. spaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

    I think part of it is because of a flaw in list-based parties in many other countries. In the US and Canada, candidates for a riding or area are elected by that area's party membership. Sure sometimes the central party parachutes in a candidate but it's always is with some level of self-harm.

    With many parties in Europe, it is those who make the lists of candidates who hold the power. Oh, you don't like the way the current party is run? How about we no longer put you on the list. It enforces a level of ideological purity formally.

  16. Ann Apolis

    haha it's funny because foreign people are stupid

  17. J.J. McCullough

    No stupider than Americans. But no smarter, either.

  18. Chris

    I understood this as sarcastic humor… I'm assuming most other readers did not?

  19. ThePsudo

    It's stupid as sarcasm, too.

  20. Colin Minich

    One of the biggest problems is simply access to reliable media. Often times the most ludicrous voices end up being the voices most heard. I wouldn't be so quick to judge the foreign stance on this since I'm more than likely able to provide even worse evidence of Americans knowing next to nothing about Merkel, Hollande, Harper, etc. The only things that seem to be on point with American observation of foreign politics are, ironically, those loud ludicrous voices that you get from the North Korean media, Hugo Chavez, and Ahmadinejad. China already gets half its media blocked so that's another can of worms.

    You're right that they're very similar to Americans in the sense that often times they only know the rhetoric and not the detail/substance beneath. Of course to be fair, Romney is not really doing them any favors. His talk of "not wanting to be like Europe" only to try to fly and woo them and then making the ridiculous claims of being "tough on China on day one" only show how naive and utterly antagonistic he makes the GOP look to the world. The notion Romney and the GOP want to carry a more "pragmatic" version of Bush's "freedom agenda" is also highly disconcerting, the GOP already complaining Obama is playing softball with our enemies, which in the case of Iran's sanction woes, is not the case. It's a mixed bag really, but a damn shame some of those answers are as ignorant as talking to young Libertarians or out-and-out bigots here in the States.

  21. Kadin

    "No one offers even the slightest sympathy towards the idea that America has a right to battle terrorist networks dominated by angry men trying to kill Americans, presumably because it’s not their citizens in the cross-hairs (though it often is). It’s always easiest to pass judgement on that which is most far removed from your own experience, and considering how many countries barely have militaries at all these days, the sweeping judgment of American militarism is really a lot less thoughtful than such critics like to imagine."

    That's a weird thing to say given that people from Pakistan and Afghanistan were interviewed. America "battling terrorist networks" is probably much less far removed from those people's experiences than it is from the experiences of most Americans.

  22. @undefined

    Which means you'd think they'd be less than thrilled about all the drone strikes Obama has authorized.

  23. Jake_Ackers

    Considering it was only 100 people I doubt the pollsters would of walked directly into the Western part of Pakistan or the warzone in Afghanistan to poll people.

  24. J.J. McCullough

    The point was more that a lot of foreigners seem to perceive the War on Terror as just something mean and aggressive America is doing because it likes "meddling in other countries' affairs" or whatever, not a legitimate action to solve a legitimate problem.

  25. Monte

    Except the logic you use to defend american war on terror is the same logic you use against those that criticize it; that idea that its easier for them to judge because they are far more removed from the action and its not their citizens being threatened.

    When it comes down to it, the people suffering the most from the war on terror are not the americans, but the innocent civilians in arab countries. Nato and the American military forces have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians. People often defend the military's actions by calling these deaths "casualties of war", but these same people would be singing a different tune if it was THEIR civilians that were being killed by the allied forces; in fact there are many war supporters who defend the deaths saying "they hate us anyway" or "they support the terrorists" completely ignoring their individuality an innocence of any wrongdoing (it essentially amounts to generalization and what amounts to racism). You can be certain that if the american forces attacked a group of terrorists and wound up killing a dozen americans in the process, their would be a tremendous amount of outrage (where as the death of arab civilians are often ignored by the war supporting public)… Our war on terror has been very costly in lives and resources and has lasted over a decade and yet hasn't put an end to these terror groups; our military actions which often result in civilian death and the hatred over invasions and war end up being used as a propaganda/recruiting tool for terrorists allowing them to replenish their numbers.

    not to mention the other war we were most criticized for, the iraq war, had nothing to do with terrorism and really didn't have a legit reason for starting, especially when we found a lot of the information that was used to support the war in the first place turned out to be false.

  26. Jake_Ackers

    The GWoT is a means to an end. Many think the US is using it as an end. IE: Bomb/shoot them all versus bomb/shoot the bad guys and work with the good. The latter is what I think most level headed people think the strategy is. But because it's so hard to pinpoint who are the good and bad, it looks like the former.

    The killing of innocent civilians isn't on purpose. Never has there been a war, except maybe Vietnam, in which the civilians and the enemies look exactly the same. This causes massive problems. The terrorists are the ones who walk into buildings and crowded town squares and blow themselves up along with innocent people. And this isn't anything new. The terrorists have been doing this for a while and will continue to do it whether the Coalition is there or not.

  27. Monte

    Its a false means to an end because it doesn't worked; this entire war on terror has been a failure. We kill their members but they use our own actions to recruit more; even their leaders can be replaced as they are not too picky. It doesn't matter whether or not civilian deaths are intentional, when innocent people die, people get angry, and they get angry at those that killed them. You think that our people would tolerate our police killing civilians in the process of killing dangerous criminals? No they would be outraged no matter what the circumstances. Many of these same poeple will turn a blind eye when its civilians in another country that are killed by our forces. This only gets worse when the forces taking these actions are foreigners. When it comes down to it, the terrorists are not popular in these countries either, according to polls these groups have very little actual support. Its true that intentions are important, but actions speak far louder than words, and locals come to hate all those that kill innocent people, intentional or not. And when the locals hate us, our efforts become counter productive.

  28. Jake_Ackers

    Many Americans think that too.

  29. Clark

    None of this means Americans shouldn’t take global opinion into account in their choice. The President is our head of state, the face we present to the world. If one option tends to put foreign populaces on their guard and the other causes them to give us the benefit of the doubt, we should take that difference into account.

  30. Trenacker

    The irony is that so many Americans, conservatives especially, have learned to wear foreign agitation and condemnation as a badge of honor.

    A lot of the same emotion informs the reaction to Obama's foreign policy. Conservatives call it an "apology tour," and the idea is that we are somehow prostrating ourselves before people who understand only force or the threat of it. There is a widespread willingness to believe that aside from a feminized Europe, the world is otherwise full of people who are, put simply, barbarians, and profit only from the rod. Republican talking points now bounce schizophrenically between bashing Obama for failing to prop up Mubarak and insisting that we should support freedom everywhere, with arms if necessary.

  31. Jake_Ackers

    It's not what you say but how you say it. Especially in foreign policy. Plus I don't understand this whole position you hold that Republicans wanted to keep Mubarak. Who cares about Mubarak. He was going to go and had to go. Moreover, people were more worried about the Brotherhood taking over Egypt not Mubarak.

    Plus frankly if you want to generalize, if anything the whole point of Iraq was that Bush wanted it to be a beckon of hope for the Middle East. The end game was the Arab Spring in which Mubarak got kicked out. So wouldn't neocons back the ousting of Mubarak? And paleocons/libertarians just not care as long as the new person isn't a direct threat to the US?

  32. Jake_Ackers

    Honestly it depends on what and when. Why can't we have both? One who makes our enemies fear us and makes our allies love us. IE: Reagan, Eisenhower. Even FDR. The US political system isn't made of Carters and Bushes.

  33. Jake_Ackers

    Aka the media decides everything for most people.

    Just one key point: The USA is a superpower because it doesn't follow what the rest of the world does. So clearly what the rest of the world thinks to a degree, NOTE TO A DEGREE, is flawed. If we did what they did we wouldn't be Number One. Simply as that. In fact Brazil, Russia, India, China, etc. are becoming more American (more free market, more democracy, more freedom) and are learning from us and we are the ones going backwards.

    MIchael Phelps didn't win all those medals by listening to the coaches of the other teams. He did his own thing with his own coaches.

  34. Hugh

    Except that the US isn't the only developed western country in the world. What about Britain, Australia and Canada? Not to mention the majority of the EU. These countries are all free market democracies with similiar histories and politics. The US might be a superpower but it's just one part of the western world.

    I think it's important to remember that the US was built on the back of European thought. The US adopted liberal ideas (as in free trade, human rights, democracy) that came from Great Britain and Europe. It's a little short sighted to claim that these originated solely in the US and that liberalisation is "becoming more American".

  35. J.J. McCullough

    What I took from Jake's comments was more that any superpower nation will be, by definition in conflict with the rest of the world, since the rest of the world generally doesn't want a superpower. Which means that the opinions of the rest of the world will, in turn, generally favor that the superpower embrace policies that weaken and marginalize itself.

    It's kind of interesting, because in the same way I think the Republicans have a foreign image problem of being the party of war and imperialism, the Democrats have a foreign image problem of being the party of weakness and capitulation. You see how many foreigners in the survey seem to think of Obama as a sort of soft, peaceniky guy despite the fact that his foreign policy isn't really that much different than Bush's.

  36. Colin Minich

    But I'd prefer they do think that, albeit naive. The other thing that I know cheeses a lot of other nations and definitely the leftists/expats that emigrate to Canada is that the US doesn't comply fully with the UN. It'd be power suicide to do so. And of course they still hold the notion that the US is too nosy and interventionist, but no one else seems to want to help others so despite the Ron Pauls out there I'd prefer to be a nation that has some global responsibility. The reason behind the image problems stems from the rhetoric and the mentality of the base. Look at Bush and especially Cheney. They cared not one bit, while at least Obama looks like he cares to some extent.

    I know a lot of people, particularly Europeans, are hoping for a multi-polar world, but I'd personally find that to be a disaster in the making.

  37. Hugh

    I'd argue that US hegemony is rooted in the spread of liberalism rather than the projection of military force and generally the western world embraces the US' superpower status. The core American values, free trade and democracy, are all about international cooperation and integration. International opinion, especially from other western and English-speaking countries, is a lot more informed than I think you give it credit for.

  38. Jake_Ackers

    True. If the free market and free trade works there is no need for an interventionist foreign policy. And interventionism is something Americans historically oppose. So spreading US ideals like free market and democracy just makes the US stronger. Rather than holding power because you can out gun anyone else. Good point.

  39. Monte

    Jake did not say that they talk this way because they think every country should be as weak as they are… His statement seems more to the point that those countries are not superpowers and therefore they can't possibly give America good advice. America is the super power, not them, so by that simple logic, america must be doing something right that they are all doing something wrong and therefore america should trust its own judgement, not the judgement that comes from those weaker than itself.

    This however is a flawed logic… It does not take into account some of the advantages that America has had or take into account the past and present status of countries different from america. For instance, much of Europe was held back by WWII since they had to spend many years rebuilding from the war that mostly ravaged their nations while the US was free to expand its influence. America's population size can also gives it an advantage over its capitalist counter parts. The european nations have A LOT in common with the US, but they did not succeed as america did after WWII. We also can't forget that the soviet union, which was very different from the US was once considered a world super power; which in turn also shows that its not impossible for a world power to fall from that status. There are many experts who feel as though the US may actually be on the edge of a major decline. And then there's China who is a major player in the world market… Really there are a number of nations that people think could rise up to become superpowers; Some even think that we should consider the European Union as a whole and that together they may rise to super power status. Frankly, America feeling that it should not listen to foreigners just because its big and they're small is a point of arrogance, not wisdom and that kind of arrogance is how the US could loose its standing.

    He also feels like america is going backwards it is american policies that are allowing other countries to rise up, but when it comes down to it what we've been doing is more or less an extension of many of our old policies… for instance the wars that have been a tremendous drain on our country and deflating our position in the eyes of the world is just a continuation of what we've been doing since the times of the cold war. And our current economic status was done in part by by a pro-free market move; taking away regulations and allowing companies(banks) to act more freely. So no, not everything america does is right just because it somehow worked for us in the past and there is such a thing as maybe going to far.

  40. Jake_Ackers

    1) JJ summed up my point. Recommendations from a person in 2nd place normally won't be good advice to those who are in 1st. Whether its due to the fact they don't know what they are talking about or simply hate the person in first place. Frankly I think it's what JJ explained, they just don't want one global superpower.

    2) Plenty of countries have been superpowers and plenty can be. Yes the USA is large because of it's resources and size but the fact that it has stayed while others have come and gone means something. Just because Spain won the World Cup once and Italy and Germany have won it a few times doesn't displace Brazil as the greatest soccer country in the world. In the same notion then just because other countries have come and gone that doesn't take away from the fact the US is the largest, strongest and has been for a while. Even if there have been other rivals.

    3) Europe is different from the US. Spending and all those social programs that Europe has is not what the US has traditionally done. Revolutionary War anyone? What works for one country doesn't mean it will work for another or vice versa. So what has worked for the US works for the US. Why should it adopt or listen to what other countries say? It might work for the other country but doesn't mean it works for the USA. It's not because they are 3rd world or smaller than the US that it should be dismissed. It's because it simply isn't in the best interest of the USA despite what people think.

    4) An interventionist foreign policy historically has been at odds with both Americans and how the US has operated. Although yes since the Cold War that has changed.

    5) This recession is a housing market crash. We are in a recession because of the banks HAVING to give loans to people who couldn't afford it. That's a regulation. We are not in a recession because of the tax rates or spending. You can argue whether we STILL are because of the rates and spending but that's a whole different discussion.

    6) Despite the recession the US is still the largest economy. And if you count the EU as one economy then NAFTA should be another. Because face it, it's about the same thing anyway. Especially since some countries have been talking about leaving the EU or the Euro (or get kicked out.)

  41. Virgil

    Actually…this sounds remarkably like the 19th Century Disraeli/Gladstone debate. Plus ca change?

  42. Jim

    "Usually British"?
    Still an Anglophobic bigot, I see.

  43. Zulu


  44. ThePsudo

    JJ said these world polls are usually run by British groups, and that they're kinda silly. Jim mistakenly imagines that's the same as saying, "British people are silly."

  45. @undefined

    Oh for fuck's sake, comment thingie ate my lengthy comment. The Affirmative Action Scrub In Chief has to go in lieu of Mr. Fixit and, given that 92% of the world is not fond of the 8% of the world that is White, international support for Obama can largely be explained by pure racism. Have a pleasant day all.

  46. Guest

    Apparently both the Chinese and the Russian government have thrown their support behind Obama.
    Now, this is not entirely suprising since Mitt has used China as the economic bogeyman and Russia as the military one (he could have used China for both easily enough and saved offending two big countries) but I wonder if the endorsement will help or hurt Obama.
    Like JJ said, I suspect the results of the poll are a combination of ignorance, self-interest and the international community (and media)'s love of Obama (see Nobel Peace Prize for potential).
    They are going to make their decisions based on what they think is best for them, not what will be best for the USA.

  47. Jake_Ackers

    Your last sentence is pretty much the point. Thumbs up.

  48. Guest

    "the vast bulk of global opinion on the American presidential contest is exceedingly ill-informed, superficial, knee-jerk, and chauvinistic — and thus fairly worthless."

    I'd be interested to see if the same methodology was tried on a domestic sample to see what the difference is. I don't think the parties or the media at home are really raising the bar that much higher, and other polls often suggest that many people don't know as much about domestic party politics as political commentators think they ought to.

    As an aside, be careful about assuming that factual ignorance is essential in politics. Is "I trust So-and-so to make the right decision but Whassname seems a bit slimy" invalid? Do we expect people to opinionate in terms of fiscal multipliers? Who decides what's 'informed' anyway? Furthermore, beware the difference between language reception and production! People may be capable of comprehending the subtleties and making complex judgements without having the ability to use the vocabulary to explain their rationale, so they tend to fudge it. If there's value in representative democracy, it's that politicians are supposed to be able to articulate ideas better than the rest of us.

    What your observation does invalidate is the claim that the US public are somehow stupid and incapable of choosing their leader and it should fall to the rest of the world to do so. But you don't need a poll for that one.

    And as you recognised, that wasn't the idea behind the line of enquiry. The argument was that the US President has global influence so what the world thinks is relevant. If you accept this, you cannot then dismiss this opinion simply because it is ill-informed any more than you can make people take a test as a condition of voting. Political campaigns and politicians need to empower their supporters with information and if they're not doing that, they're not going to be effective.

    Finally, a sample of 100? That's fewer than most domestic polling even in small and relatively homogeneous countries, never mind polling for 6 billion, across six continents accounting for social status, existing political tendencies, national peculiarities, contactability. There's no way you could find a remotely well-weighted sample there.