International opinion of President Barack Obama's foreign policy has fallen sharply since his inauguration, according to a poll released Wednesday.
The Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project surveyed people in 21 countries on their attitudes toward the United States, as well as other world issues.
Approval rates for Obama's international policies dropped by more than six points from 2009 in most countries surveyed, and fell by double digits in the groups of European and Muslim countries featured in the poll, as well as in Russia, Japan and Mexico. The most significant change was in China, where approval fell from 57 percent to 27 percent over the past three years.
Many who were surveyed felt that the president hadn't lived up to expectations on issues such climate change and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and that he had failed to listen to other nations. There was especially marked opposition to drone strikes, which are supported in the United States, Britain and India but deeply unpopular in the other countries surveyed.
"There remains a widespread perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries," the Pew report found. "In predominantly Muslim nations, American anti-terrorism efforts are still widely unpopular. And in nearly all countries, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes."
Despite their declining approval, pluralities of people in more than half of the countries surveyed wanted to see Obama re-elected, and continued to express confidence in Obama's foreign policy. Nearly all gave him higher marks than former President George W. Bush, with the exception of Pakistan, where relations with the U.S. has grown increasingly strained. There, only 7 percent expressed confidence in Obama -- identical to Bush's approval in the last year of his presidency.
The Pew poll was conducted by a mix of live telephone and face-to-face interviews between March 17 and April 20, with methodology varying across the countries surveyed. Sample sizes ranged from 700 in Japan to 4,018 in India. Margins of error were between 3.3 percent and 5.2 percent, with the highest margins in Brazil and Turkey. In Pakistan, a number of areas were excluded from the survey because of instability or security risks; two populous Indian states, Kerala and Assam, were also excluded. According to Pew Research, the samples in some countries, such as India and Pakistan, were "disproportionately urban."
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