News
 International
   Global Views
   Asia-Pacific
   America
   Europe
   Middle East & Africa
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  Asia-Pacific
CSIS Commentary
Strategic Competition and Foreign Perceptions of the United States
Special Contribution
By Anthony H. Cordesman
US soldiers being sent to Germany
It is all too easy to focus on the military aspects of strategic competition with China and Russia or on the political issues of the day and to instead ignore the importance of how our allies, strategic partners, and other states perceive the United States. A June 10, 2021 poll by the Pew Research Service warns, however, that it can be exceedingly dangerous to do so.

The main headline of the poll is seemingly reassuring: “America’s Image Abroad Rebounds With Transition From Trump to Biden.” Most initial press reporting has focused on these results and they are important, but they need far more qualification. It is the line under the title that sounds a critical strategic warning: “But many raise concerns about health of U.S. political system.” As is the case with many polls, the results need to be put in context, and it is the full range of results that count – not a simple bottom line.

Shifting Attitudes Towards the U.S. Presidency

A copy of the full text of the Pew poll and report is attached at the end of this commentary, and the documents is available online here . The first part focuses on the shifts in the attitudes in key countries like Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

The main headline of the poll is seemingly reassuring: “America’s Image Abroad Rebounds With Transition From Trump to Biden.” Most initial press reporting has focused on these results and they are important, but they need far more qualification. It is the line under the title that sounds a critical strategic warning: “But many raise concerns about health of U.S. political system.” As is the case with many polls, the results need to be put in context, and it is the full range of results that count – not a simple bottom line.

Shifting Attitudes Towards the U.S. Presidency

A copy of the full text of the Pew poll and report is attached at the end of this commentary, and the documents is available online here . The first part focuses on the shifts in the attitudes in key countries like Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

It is brutally clear from the text that follows – and by the break outs of trends by country – that foreign perceptions of President Trump were generally highly negative, dropped sharply during the election and the riots in Washington and the Capitol that followed, and have risen sharply as the Biden Administration has reversed the Trump Administration’s emphasis on a transactional foreign policy that emphasized direct benefits to the United States and has renewed America’s emphasis on actual partnership.

Confidence of Key European and Asian Countries in the United States

The poll then, however, begins to communicate a different message. On page nine, it notes that,

Although Biden’s more multilateral approach to foreign policy is welcomed, there is still a widespread perception that the U.S. mainly looks after its own interests in world affairs. More than half in most of the publics surveyed say the U.S. does not take their interests into account when it is making foreign policy decisions, although fewer feel this way in Japan, Greece and Germany. Doubts about the U.S. considering the interests of other countries predate the Trump Administration, and this has been the prevailing view – even among close U.S. allies – since the Center began asking the question in 2002.”

The graphic results of the poll communicate a very different and more important message that is driven by the partisan excess and domestic crises in the 2020 Presidential Campaign, and the poll presents a series of graphs and tables that shift away from the presidency to allied trust in the United States and faith in American democracy. Figure Two shows a range of these very different results. They need to be kept in context, and again, it is critical to read the full Pew text.

Negative as some of the trends in Figure Two are, the Pew text states,

There have been significant increases in the shares saying the U.S. considers their interests when making foreign policy since the question was last asked during the Trump presidency. In addition to the jump in Germany, there have been double-digit increases in such sentiment in Greece, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada, France, the UK and Spain. In Greece and Canada, this is the highest such reading in a Pew Research Center survey, even compared with the Obama era. Still, the predominant sentiment, going back to 2002 when the question was first asked, is that the U.S. does not consider the interests of countries like theirs. The election of Joe Biden has not fundamentally changed that.

It is all too clear, however, that the U.S. faces a major challenge in terms of information competition – and “warfare” – that Americans have so far failed to properly address. Competition with China and Russia, and lesser threats like North Korea and Iran, depends to a great degree on how other states compare the United States with such countries and on the faith in the U.S. as an ally and a political system. Important as military and economic strength may be, the U.S. needs to be far more than the largest and most advanced economy as well as the largest and most advanced military power. It needs to have the respect and trust of as many other powers as possible, and it needs to actually earn it on a consistent basis.

Swings in Confidence in the United States

Here, the longer term results of the Pew Poll are shown in Figure Three, and they warn how serious the past swings in popular opinion towards the Untied States can be in key countries Some have been driven by news events that are beyond the control of policymakers and may not affect alliances and strategic alignments. The overall pattern, however, is troublesome at best, and calls for both far more attention in communicating with our allies and partners and for more detailed polling to find out what factors drive negative perception of the United States and the comparisons of foreign attitudes towards China and Russia. It also makes it clear that the United States cannot rely on its own perceptions of Americans in competing. It must look at the perceptions of other states.

Foreign perceptions of the United States will shape all of these other areas of competition to some degree and will do so on a global basis that extends far beyond the South China Sea, the Indo-Pacific, and Russia’s “near abroad.

Competing with China and Russia on A Global Level

It is equally important to realize that the United States faces a future where it must deal with the medium to long term impact of the Covid-19 crisis, perceptions of U.S. withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq, how well American democracy functions in the upcoming 2022 elections, and how much allies and partners have rebuilt their trust in the United States.

The Pew Poll focuses on a limited range of countries that broadly share the same values, political system, and economic system. There are good reasons for these limits. As the Pew survey makes clear,

“For this report, we use data from nationally representative surveys of 16,254 adults from March 12 to May 26, 2021. All surveys were conducted over the phone with adults in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan…This study was conducted in places where nationally representative telephone surveys are feasible. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, face-to-face interviewing is not currently possible in many parts of the world.”

The fact remains, however, that many key countries are not included in this survey, including most of the countries where the U.S. now competes most directly with China and Russia – including nations in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean region, MENA and the Gulf, and sub-Saharan Africa – as well as countries linked to Russia like Belarus.

In spite of what is currently a far too narrow focus on direct military competition with China and Russia, America must actively compete in the rest of Asia, the Indian Ocean area, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Here, foreign perceptions may be based on very different values with far more emphasis on economics and internal security – and in societies where substantial parts of the population see their own government as their primary threat or where an authoritarian regime has successfully managed to portray the United States as a hostile power or direct threat. In all too many such states, the leadership controls every decision and aspect of power, and public opinion is largely irrelevant – at least in the short run.

In the real world, it is also one of the ironies of modern military power that the cost of actually engaging in a major war is so high that “mutual assured destruction” is dropping from the nuclear level to the threat level conflict or any conflict where the mix of risks and direct costs is clearly higher than the value of fighting for the objective.

Here gray area and indirect warfare already tend to dominate competition with China and Russia on a global level, as do “white area” conflicts in trade, foreign investment, arms sales and security assistance, STEM levels of development, infrastructure, cyber, and space. So far, Figure Four indicates that the Pew survey seems relatively reassuring to the extent it focuses solely on how some key European and Asian general public view President Biden, President Xi, and President Putin.

It does not, however, address views of strategic competition or include many states where the U.S. already competes with China and Russia at a “white area,” gray area, and military level, nor does it measure faith the U.S. capability to be a valid strategic partner in dealing with China and Russia as a threat.

The above writer, Anthony H. Cordesman, holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He has served as a consultant on Afghanistan to the United States Department of Defense and the United States Department of State.

Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).



Related Articles
    The Case for US-Japan-ROK Cooperation on ...
    China's Commitment to Stop Overseas Financing ...
    China Headaches for Iran Nuclear Deal
    The Quad's Strategic Infrastructure Play
    China, Again and Again and Again
    Engaging China on Climate before COP26
    When Will the United States Have a Special ...
    Is Latin America Important to China's Foreign ...
    Chinese National Oil Companies Face the Energy ...
    Four Years On: An Update on Rohingya Crisis
    11th Annual South China Sea Conference: ...
    A Glimpse of Chinese Ballistic Missile ...
    US Defense Chief Austin Accomplishes Two ...
    China’s New National Carbon Trading Market: ...
    Progress Report on China’s Type 003 Carrier
    Geopolitical Implications of Scientific ...
    China’s Third Aircraft Carrier Takes Shape
    Bonny Lin, Ex-RAND Scientist, to Join CSIS
    Beyond Polysilicon: The Ties between China’s ...
    Biden-Moon Summit: Rejuvenating and ...
    S. Korean President Moon Jae-In to Meet with ...
    China’s New Space Station Is a Stepping-Stone ...
    Future Scenarios for Leadership Succession in ...
    How China Affects Global Maritime Connectivity
    What Do Overseas Visits Reveal about China’s ...
    CSIS Commission on the Korean Peninsula: ...
    Reflections on the 10th Anniversary of the ...
    Understanding China’s 2021 Defense Budget
    China’s Opaque Shipyards Should Raise Red ...
    How Developed Is China’s Arms Industry?
    Myanmar’s Military Seizes Power
    A Complex Inheritance: Transitioning to a New ...
    Combatting Human Rights Abuses in Xinjiang
    How Covid-19 Affected US-China Military ...
    Previewing the G-20 and APEC Summits
    Another US-Built Facility at Ream Bites the ...
    Vietnam Currency Investigation: Strategy and ...
    CSIS Press Briefing: U.S. Policy toward Taiwan
    Mapping the Future of U.S. China Policy
    Assessing the Direction of South Korea-Japan ...
    Chinese Investment in the Maldives: Appraising ...
    Dual Circulation and China’s New Hedged ...
    Shinzo Abe’s Decision to Step Down
    A Frozen Line in the Himalayas
    Addressing Forced Labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur ...
    Decoupling Kabuki: Japan’s Effort to Reset, ...
    Remote Control: Japan's Evolving Senkakus ...
    Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility
    China Won’t Be Scared into Choosing ...
    What’s on the Horizon for Covid-19
    Next Steps for the Coronavirus Response
    COVID-19 Threatens Global Food Security
    Geopolitics and the Novel Coronavirus
    Hope for the Climate
    The Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
    What's Inside the US-China Phase One Deal?
    When Iran Attacks
    Ports and Partnerships: Delhi Invests in ...
    Seeking Clues in Case of the Yuemaobinyu 42212
    Signaling Sovereignty: Chinese Patrols at ...
    Red Flags: Why Was China’s Fourth Plenum ...
    Japan and Korea: Rising Above the Fray
    Only US Can Pull Japan, Korea Back from Brink
    China Risks Flare-Up over Malaysian, ...
    Fear Won’t Stop China’s Digital Silk Road
    Japan, N. Korea: Summit, Missiles, Abductions
    “Chinese, Russian Influence in the Middle ...
    Tracking China’s 3rd Aircraft Carrier
    CSIS Scholars Discuss Trump-Abe Summit
    Still Under Pressure: Manila Vs. the Militia
    Is North Korea Preparing for a Military Parade?
    Slow and Steady: Vietnam's Spratly Upgrades
    Sanctions against North Korea: An Unintended ...
    More Is Possible Now to Address North Korea’s ...
    North Korea Reportedly Renews Commitment to ...
    Settling Kurdish Self-Determination in ...
    The Trump Administration’s Trade Objectives ...
    How Is China Securing Its LNG Needs?
    Responding to the Xinjiang Surveillance State ...
    Rethinking U.S. Strategy in the Pacific Islands
    Will the Election Results Turn the Tide on ...
    China, US Choose Between 4 “Cs” Conflict, ...
    Shinzo Abe Rolls On
    Necessary Counterterrorism Conversations
    Trade and Wages
    North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Facilities ...
    Negotiating the Right Agreement: Looking ...
    The Korean Civil-Military Balance
    Will Trump-Kim Summit Be Cancelled?
    The Chinese Are Coming! The Chinese Are Coming!
    How Much Have the Chinese Actually Taken?
    The Other Side of N. Korean Threat: Looking ...
    The Other Side of the North Korean, Iranian, ...
    CSIS & Syracuse's Maxwell School Offer ...
    Dr. Sue Mi Terry Joins CSIS as Senior Fellow ...
    EU to Social Media: Regulate or Be Regulated
    Japan’s Lower House Election: Abe Prevails ...
    China and Technology: Tortoise and Hare Again
    "Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia"


 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange