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U.S. image and leader favorability in surveys: some underlying economic realities

September 2, 2016

According to the Pew Research Center, 83% of Swedish respondents in spring 2016 expressed either “a lot of confidence” or “some confidence” in “U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton” “to do the right thing regarding world affairs.”(1) 0% of the Swedes expressed “a lot of confidence” for Trump, and 6% of Swedes “some confidence.” Thus, to those who think the world should care about the U.S. presidential election the way self-centered U.S. Democrats do, Swedes would seem to be especially progressive.

With people inside/outside the United States with a strong preference for Clinton, if one points out anything potentially positive about Trump’s candidacy the response could be as if one were from America and had to be a Republican/conservative, or were only motivated by bourgeois ties or interests. So, if one pointed out Trump’s relative rhetorical openness regarding Russia, the reaction could be as if one were a Republican or a David Duke-type white nationalist despite the increased prominence of “independents” and the possibility that business ties to various countries could actually make somebody less likely to be a particular fascist compared with Clinton or Bernie Sanders. There are various “socialists” whose ideas about Americans, “revolution,” and their ability to wield violence for good, are even more delusional.

Apparently, one is supposed to forget that, for years, both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats had problems with Islam and Muslim countries. Long before Trump announced eir candidacy, anti-Amerikan or anti-Western Christians and Muslims particularly appeared as “conservative” or backward to many Amerikans who associated progress or liberty with Amerikan culture.

Sweden – a troop contributor in Afghanistan and an accomplice to the Amerikan-led NATO aggression against Libya – ranks at the top of the list on the Clinton world affairs confidence question, Q38Nb. Sweden also happens to be working with other imperialist countries against Julian Assange. Despite/because of being stuck in a room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for years, Assange knows some truths about Obama. And Assange has shown a willingness to talk about U.$. presidential candidates in ways that defy some norms. It doesn’t make everything Assange says or thinks correct, but people who are really struggling with the United $tates – and not just trying to curry favor or seek improved socioeconomic status as Amerikans – see things differently.

Sweden has about $50 billion of foreign direct investment in the united $tates (2015 direct investment position on a historical-cost basis).(2) That’s a lot considering how small the country is. Sweden ran a sizable positive trade balance with the united $tates in 2015. Of course, it is much smaller than China’s, but it is higher per capita. Sweden has a per-capita GDP three times that of China – and a higher GDP per hour worked than “Canada” and the UK, an indication of exploitive privilege under the global status quo.

According to the same Pew Research Center survey, similar percentages – 35% and 40% – of Chinese expressed having no confidence (“not too much confidence” or “no confidence at all”) in Clinton and Trump. So did similar percentages of Indians: 16% and 18%. China and India are the largest countries in the world and the only Third World countries that were surveyed by the Pew Research Center in that survey. It’s not that Swedes are more revolutionary than Chinese and Indians, or that Chinese and Indians don’t care about racism or “tone.” The world’s concerns and priorities are different from Amerikans’ concerns and priorities so that, for example, talking about racism involving both Republicans and Democrats after the u.$. presidential primary, or about disproportionate repression including incarceration of New Afrikans (members of the internal Black nation of the united $tates), can be a way for other countries to gain in global public opinion struggle against the united $tates, and yet if there is little actual foreign policy difference between Clinton and Trump then Trump may actually be preferable for the damage Trump would do to u.$. image. The world and u.$. presidential candidates look differently from the point of view of countries that collectively have billions of workers who are actually exploited or oppressed toilers. There is no proletariat among Amerikan or Swedish citizens; nor is there some revolutionary petty-bourgeoisie in those countries.

Countries that show a strong preference for a particular u.$. candidate may be more similar to the united $tates economically, politically and socially, or not struggling with the united $tates as much. The difference in interest between Sweden and China may not reflect so much that one is more vulnerable or less powerful. If one considers the Obama-McCain contest, for example, 33% of French respondents in March-April 2008 expressed confidence in John McCain to do the right thing in world affairs while 84% expressed confidence in Obama.(3) Germany had almost identical percentages to France’s. In contrast, the percentages reported for many other countries are low and closer to each other: Nigeria (McCain “do the right thing” world affairs confidence 32%, and Obama confidence 48%), Russia (McCain 22%, and Obama 39%), China (31% and 36%), Azania (28% and 36%), Lebanon (25% and 34%), India (28% and 33%), Egypt (23% and 31%), Mexico (19% and 30%), Jordan (23% and 22%), Turkey (5% and 20%), and Pakistan (6% and 10%). Jordan’s 2008 McCain and Obama world affairs confidence ratings are virtually equal to each other and only a few points more than Jordan’s u.$. favorable rating. When it comes to favoring u.$. candidates, many are indifferent. Although, now there is speculation that Chinese may actually prefer Trump because of Trump’s focus on counterterrorism as opposed to “democratization” projects for instance.(4)

Several months ago, though, some were worrying – or merely predicting(5) – that Trump’s candidacy would cause international opinion of the united $tates to become weaker. Alternatively, global coverage of actions and words of Amerikans in opposition to Trump could increase u.$. favorability. Various Amerikans’ using Trump as a way to distance themselves from what is unlikable about Amerikans may result in more people viewing the united $tates favorably – such that even if Trump got 49% of the vote Amerikans would end up looking good with a Trump loss. As it turns out, it looks like the Pew Research Center hasn’t come up with enough data this year.(6) 2016 figures are missing for most of the countries for which percentages were reported in 2015 on the “very”/”somewhat” “favorable”/”unfavorable” united $tates opinion question. However, in most of the countries with which a 2015-2016 comparison is possible, it seems the “favorable” rating (percentage) decreased. China and India diverged in that the Chinese u.$. favorable percentage went from 44% to 50% while the Indian percentage dropped from 70% to 56%. Trump’s candidacy and Obama’s continuing stated and fervent mission to improve Amerika’s image likely both contributed to changes, or non-change or lack of net change, on the u.$. image question.

Confidence in Obama “to do the right thing regarding world affairs” remains very high in several countries.(7) 84%, 83%, 84%, 86%, 78%, 91%, 75%, 93% and 79% of Australian, Canadian, French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish and British respondents, respectively, had such confidence in Obama, all higher than their u.$. favorability ratings. Viewing Obama or the likely-next u.$. president more positively than the united $tates could indicate forgiveness toward u.$. foreign policy history, potentially leading to masochism or sadism where one knows about Amerikan-caused suffering but favors a u.$. president. Swedes have confidence in both Obama and Clinton at a higher percentage (note 1) than they view the united $tates favorably (note 6). Interestingly, however, the Chinese (44% and 52% in 2015 and 2016) and Indian (74% and 58%) u.$. president confidence percentages seem to closely follow the Chinese (again, 44% and 50%) and Indian (70%, 56%) favorable u.$. opinion percentages. 52% and 58% having confidence in Obama for world affairs is still unacceptably high for China and India and at the same time it is possible to view the united $tates unfavorably for the wrong reasons (issues involving regional neighbors), but Chinese and Indians seem to have less of an illusion about u.$. presidential leadership than people in many Western countries have. The distinction between the united $nakes and who occupies the executive branch of the u.$. federal government isn’t as important.

High western-European confidence in Clinton, and increased confidence in Clinton in various countries since 2008, are a worrying sign. In the words of the director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center, “experience shows that the success or failure of [a U.S. presidential candidate’s] foreign policy may depend, in part, on how it is perceived abroad” (“Does world want Romney or Obama?”). According to, Clinton still has the highest chance of becoming President, 72% at this time.(8) That is based on millions of dollars of bets by gamblers who may be betting on people they don’t want to win as happens all the time in sports betting. Bets already reflect some consideration of the potential “silent majority” and social desirability bias issues being discussed in the media lately. With Clinton favored to win the presidency, it is necessary for anti-Amerikans everywhere to attack Clinton strongly regardless of Trump’s drawbacks perceived and real. If that is not true in terms of what WikiLeaks is doing now for example, it would be because anti-elite exposés have or acquire an undesirable populist character in the united $tates and Amerikans generally react in a bad way to such revelations because of their positions as oppressors or exploiters in the united $tates.

U.$. minorities and Amerikanism

In 2016, 83% of Pew Research Center respondents in the united $tates had a favorable view of the united $tates, lower than the 88% of 2009 but twenty percentage points higher than the 62% of people who were “white alone, not Hispanic or Latino” in that country in 2015 (QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau). Even assuming no such white viewed the country unfavorably, which is ridiculous with the complaints and frustration white conservatives, white liberals, white so-called moderates and white centrists were having during the primaries, 38% of the other people viewed the united $tates “very” or “somewhat” unfavorably (15 ÷ (100 - 61.6)). Only 10% (4 ÷ (100 - 61.6)) of that non-white category viewed it “very” unfavorably. That’s ten percent of 38% under that assumption. In reality, the percentage of u.$. non-whites with a very unfavorable view of the united $tates is probably lower, considering prisoners separately. With Obama in office still for several more months and Clinton the likely next President posturing as an anti-racist, questions arise about trying to achieve anti-racist goals and how that relates to viewing the united $tates and certain figures favorably or not. For example, any sort of positive view of a leader for racial reasons might affect one’s view of eir foreign policy leadership, or satisfaction with statehood conditions in North America and with certain approaches to dealing with inequality, even if one had an unfavorable view of the united $tates.

In regard to race, it is the contention of this writer that, with the increasing mainstreaming of postmodernist and academic ideas/language about race including on national TV news in the united $tates, it does no good to talk about racism in the u.$. context – unless it is racism toward non-Amerikans – if one doesn’t support liberation of Chican@s and New Afrikans as nations distinct from Euro-Amerika. Far too often, “race” issues of the united $tates are raised in a way that supports u.$. imperialism. Integrationism and the left wing of imperialist parasitism are exhaustively coopting the language of anti-racism. In the Amerikan context, imperialism dominates the discourse on racism, white privilege, whiteness, even “white nationalism” in many cases (as if a white nation didn’t already exist), and white supremacy, topics that are used in effect to obscure international racism of Amerikans as a group and international exploitation of non-Amerikans by Amerikans including both non-white and white Amerikans. In the absence of more progressively developing non-white nationalism, racial identity of u.$. minorities is used to shield the privilege of large numbers of Amerikans – including white Amerikans by extension eventually – from examination. It is used to invalidate the concerns and experiences of anti-Amerikans struggling against a country that wields its “racial” and gender issues and so-called progress as ideological weapons internationally and domestically.

At this point in time, failure to support anti-Amerikan New Afrikan nationalism while discussing “racial” issues in the united $tates is an important way New Afrikan movements are being undermined. Simultaneously, the historical and ongoing oppression, and its consequences, of u.$. minorities as “racial” and “ethnic” groups are being used to justify inclusion in greater levels of Amerikan privilege and ultimately bind people to Amerikan flag regardless of some rhetoric about international solidarity or disillusionment with patriotism – increasingly similar to how class relations and related discourse in the united $tates developed to advance imperialist interests. The excuses made in 2008 and 2009 for the sky-high levels of approval of Obama among New Afrikans are themselves evidence of this. The idea then was that racists needed to be opposed, white supremacy rejected through a presidential election, etc., and patronizingly that more New Afrikans who didn’t know what was in their own exploiter interests would become anti-imperialist after Obama inevitably disappointed them.

Fast-forward to 2016, and there are now almost four hundred weeks of data to look at from Gallup.(9) Obama’s weekly job approval among “blacks” never went below 75%, was over 80% for 387 weeks out of 397 by this writer’s analysis, was at/over 85% for 318 weeks, reached a high of 96% in five weeks in 2009, 95% in two weeks in 2013, and 92% in five weeks in 2016, and has been in the high 80s or low 90s for the past few months. “Black” job approval of Obama has changed little since February 2009. Hillary Clinton’s favorability among New Afrikans has been similarly high though less than 70% recently.(10) Instead of making excuses, people should realize these questions don’t require respondents to make comparisons with anyone else, present or past, and they should support those making zealous efforts to correct the situation. Obama’s stated goal was to reconcile the oppressed with AmeriKKKa, and ey accomplished that in many cases – hopefully temporarily. At the same time, sufficient bribery has made self-interest in u.$. imperialism a reality for many New Afrikans and other oppressed nationalities inside u.$. borders.


Large numbers of Amerikan liberals and liberal Democrats also view Obama and Clinton favorably. The issue of liberals’ and New Afrikans’ high approval/favorable ratings of Obama and Clinton is important for various reasons. Liberal Amerikans and New Afrikans favor a peaceful two-state outcome in Palestine in relatively high percentages(11) and are supposed to be a base for progress on Palestine, but huge percentages back the president or likely-next president who oversees or would preside over the Amerikan-led “peace process.” This may partly explain the failure of many supporting the BDS movement to support disinvestment from the united $tates, not just boycotting some companies profiting from some parts of oppression of Palestine. Many don’t support disinvestment from the united $tates, or even just self-offs or less future investment, despite there already being potential for investors to shift to other countries in pursuit of their economic interests in the midst of post-crisis/crisis-mitigating financial/economic revamping and reconfiguration. Some activists have proposed putting Amerikans “first” and spending billions of dollars on Amerikans’ college education, for example, instead of Israel. The aid to Israel doesn’t end, it seems while the idea of using wealth created in the Third World to finance and subsidize Amerikans’ training and selection for highly parasitic unproductive jobs remains.

The notion that some u.$. president will or can eventually make things better, after people endure a long trial, can have a religious origin despite tens of millions of atheists and agnostics in France and Britain thinking in 2008 that the next u.$. president would change u.$. foreign policy for the better (“Obamamania abroad”). People racially classified as “black” in the united $tates are Muslim more often than whites are, and some may support a Muslim-majority Palestinian state for that reason. However, the number of blacks who aren’t migrants or imprisoned, who are Muslim, is far less than what one might think. Many New Afrikan atheists and Christians, like Euro-Amerikan atheists/Christians conservative or liberal, are disinclined to support a Palestinian state that could end up being Islamic, and not all Muslims favor Islamism either. There are cultural and lifestyle pressures for secularism and/or pluralism and for favoring the existence of a state that resembles the united $tates in some aspects and could end up in Amerika’s orbit. With Amerikans in general, support for peacefully coexisting Jewish and Muslim states is often shallow despite verbal support for the two-state solution and sympathy with some Palestinians.

The establishment of an independent New Afrikan state may require the prior or concurrent dismantlement of the united $tates in any form. However, New Afrikan support for the two-state solution – viewed as a temporary step by many Palestinians – bodes well for New Afrikans’ own national liberation struggle, one would think. With Clinton as the probable next u.$. president, though, there could be twelve or sixteen consecutive years of high New Afrikan approval ratings for the persyn in charge of obstructing and undermining the two-state solution. The resulting frustration with the two-state solution may negatively impact New Afrikans’ own statehood movement to the extent that it exists, for one because the spatial situation of New Afrikans’ location and Euro-Amerikans’ settlement also presents (surmountable) difficulties. There is already significant support for a one-state outcome in the Israeli-Palestinian issue among BDS supporters with discussion of an already-existing “biethnic,” “binational” or one-state reality making the two-state solution impossible. With the growth of mistakes in the Palestine context, intersection in various senses with New Afrikan movements in the united $tates may actually mean negative repercussions for the New Afrika liberation struggle. Numerous articles and speeches juxtaposing the New Afrikan and Palestinian struggles, some wrongly suggesting “black” Amerikans are leading the world in struggle against u.$. imperialism, undermine both struggles in complex ways by failing to even acknowledge the existence of the New Afrikan nation under any name. The results include settler state patriotism in various forms/guises or tolerating u.$. dominance. In 2016, it shouldn’t be acceptable for any activist anywhere to be talking in international settings about New Afrika and Palestine as if one or both were not a nation oppressed and denied self-determination by the united $tates. Of course, those trying to be popular with the Amerikan or Israeli petty-bourgeoisie will disagree.

Noam Chomsky ended up rejecting the idea, but at least Chomsky entertained the idea of boycotting the united $tates, and Harvard University and MIT, in the context of the BDS movement targeting Israel.(12) The attitude, that if there is a total boycott of I$rael there should be a boycott of the united $tates, is a correct one. Suggesting otherwise fatally undermines the anti-Israel struggle.


More than two years ago, WIN/Gallup International asked the question, “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?”(13) A global plurality of respondents accurately perceived the united $tates to be the top threat. However, Israel took the top spot in Iraq, where there are u.$. troops and bases – an intolerable coincidence that rightly draws condemnation. Among many countries’ respondents, a Muslim, Third World or non-Western country was the most-mentioned or second-most-mentioned as the #1 threat to peace with Britain only a distant contender if it was listed at all. Britain might appear more threatening in surveys if respondents were asked to name a second- or third-most threatening country.

Despite the plurality recognizing the Amerikan threat to peace, CIA and U.S. State Department people educated in Marxist rhetoric have managed to persuade many that there is something bourgeois about anti-Amerikanism. They have done so while normalizing chauvinism and disdain against Arab, Muslim and Third World countries. They contrast anti-Amerikanism with some abstract, vague or overly local struggle against “capitalism/imperialism” etc. and favor the latter, contributing to local and regional strife of sorts that benefit u.$. dominance and which they claim to oppose. The world’s oppressed face the sometimes-daunting task of drawing more attention to the oppressive Amerikan role – and to struggles for independence from Amerikan interests(14) – in opposition to the dominant narratives regarding the Middle East. These include the dominant narratives of “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” “Arab-Israeli conflict,” “Iranian-Saudi proxy war,” “Shia-Sunni sectarianism,” Arab corruption and influence over Amerikans, and self-defeating oil addiction.

It is not that people interested in geopolitics and international affairs have no understanding of the complex development of simultaneously occurring contradictions, or of Mao Zedong’s sentences, “At certain times in the revolutionary struggle, the difficulties outweigh the favourable conditions and so constitute the principal aspect of the contradiction and the favourable conditions constitute the secondary aspect. But through their efforts the revolutionaries can overcome the difficulties step by step and open up a favourable new situation; thus a difficult situation yields place to a favourable one.” The present writer knows that because everyone can see the April 2016 article on Asia Times openly suggesting (perhaps humorously) Obama is inspired by Mao’s “On Contradiction” while touching on Amerikan-Saudi contradictions using Maoist phraseology.(15) Anyone can also see the idealists abusing Marxist rhetoric as if there were atheist secular forces in the united $nakes and Muslim countries about to make a leap and overthrow global capitalism without a long, arduous international struggle in national forms to end u.$. dominance.

It is possible to see the united $tates as a threat, obstacle or perpetrator and still fail to take up more anti-Amerikanism because of investment, trade and financial issues. As for the reasons for the predominance of weak bourgeois or theocratic/religious anti-Amerikanism in some countries, economic issues can also be suspected. Development of productive forces and re-formation and geographic polarization of class structure at the global level have resulted in atheists, outside formerly socialist countries, being concentrated among capitalists and exploiter-workers in the First World. They have also resulted in capitalist mediation of international class struggle in an era of extreme dominance of one exploiter-majority imperialist country, the united $tates.

One of the less-discussed issues involves pursuing domestic economic equality too soon or too quickly in the Third World and how that could contribute to international exploitation in a highly integrated global economy. In the last several decades, new realities of global trade integration and enormous unequal exchange have appeared that are still not really understood by many due to persistent warped views of imperialist class structure and surplus-value. Trillions of dollars in hidden net flows make crucial political differences that cannot be addressed if one ignores important economic – and political – developments since 1976. If it is true that international wage differences play a causal role in international exploitation as unequal exchange theorist Arghiri Emmanuel said, then mere equalization of income (rather than more-difficult upward equalization) in some Third World countries could reinforce or increase international exploitation in concert with upward equalization in the First World. That would be for reasons most Deng Xiaoping-influenced people supporting “openness” and trade surpluses based on low prices and labor-intensive production don’t understand. To begin with, per-capita GDP in some Third World countries is a small fraction of the GDP-per-person-employed even in many Third World countries. In theory, a government with a strong emphasis on restricting capitalists in general and opposing income inequality could vacillate less in anti-imperialist struggle (or it could be merely social-democratic and neocolonial/comprador still), but because of the huge unequal exchange issue at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, together with behemoth Amerika’s sole superpower status, there is a material basis for the widespread persistence of bourgeois anti-Amerikanism and anti-Amerikanism that does not involve rapid pursuit of local income equality without extensive central planning. If a still-socialist country existed that came into being before the current level of integration, the situation would be different. A major reconfiguration of countries’ international finance, investment and trade will probably occur before the establishment of the next socialist state.

Reactionaries are blaming Venezuela’s difficulties on its alleged socialism and central planning, but the potential real issue is in trying to minimize income inequality in an oil-exporting country whose economy is still maldeveloped to suit foreign requirements and highly integrated with the global neocolonial economy. Of course, some Western activists try to have things both ways by celebrating the Venezuelan model and then finding fault with oil-exporting countries’ economies – and blaming it primarily on the non-Amerikan capitalists, politicians, and religious leaders and their followers – when it is convenient to do so.

The combination of anti-Amerikanism and Islam, if not Islamism, in Arab and non-Arab Muslim countries, with an emphasis on diplomacy and international struggle and reorientation, would be a good thing in certain respects then. Majorities of Jordanians, Lebanese, Pakistanis, Palestinians in part of Palestine (“Palestinian territories”) and Turks had an unfavorable view of the united $tates in 2015 (Global Indicators Database, Pew Research Center); the survey didn’t cover many other Muslim countries. They can exert pressure on their governments. The advancement of genuine secular socialism as a political tendency or domestic project will remain extraordinarily difficult and complicated until u.$. dominance is toppled. ◊

1. “2. Obama’s international image remains strong in Europe and Asia,” 2016 June 29.
“The world has decided who will be US President,” 2016 August 29.
3. “Obamamania abroad,” 2008 July 18.
“Does world want Romney or Obama?” 2012 August 27.
4. “China may reportedly prefer Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton for tackling ISIS,” 2016 August 17.
5. “Comrade Trump is ruining Amerika’s image globally,” 2016 April.
6. “Opinion of the United States.” ( ( (Q10a, p. 40)
7. “Confidence in the U.S. president.” (
8. (
10. “Race, gender biggest differentiators in views of Clinton, Trump,” 2016 May 27.
“Clinton’s favorability strong among black Americans,” 2015 August 10.
11. “5. Views of Israel and Palestinians,” 2016 May 5.
“Americanism and anti-Americanism in conflict: understanding public opinion on Palestine,” 2016 August.
“Americans closely split over Palestinian statehood,” 2015 February 24. (Opposing indication: “Do you favor or oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip?” 43% of “white” respondents favored in February 8-11, 2015; 42% of “nonwhite” respondents favored.)
12. “Chomsky, Ross debate Israel-Palestine peace process,” 2014 April 25.
“Noam Chomsky opposes cultural boycott of Israel,” 2016 February 1.
“In Gallup poll, the biggest threat to world peace is … America?” 2014 January 2.
14. “Has China joined Russia & Iran in Syria to neutralize US influence in the Middle East?” 2016 August 25.
“Russia, Saudi Arabia coordinate positions on Middle East settlement,” 2016 August 22.
“Beyond language: more anti-Americanism needed on Palestine,” 2016 August.
“Economic relations in a low-growth world: potential convergence of Iranian and Saudi interests, divergence from Americans’,” 2016 August.
15. “A new normal in US-Saudi ties will have to wait for next American president,” 2016 April 15. (
“Russia, Iran reset Middle East’s geopolitics,” 2016 August 21.
“Russia seeks deal with Saudi Arabia, too,” 2016 August 22.

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