Europeans haven’t felt this poorly about America since the start of the Iraq War

It’s been an awkward four years.
It’s been an awkward four years.
Image: REUTERS/Yves Herman
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Eighteen years ago, the US invaded Iraq under the false pretense that Saddam Ḥussein possessed nuclear weapons. It did so against the objections of many of its European allies including France and Germany.

The Iraq war left a lasting blot on transatlantic relations. So it’s a measure of how bad things have gotten that a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that in some European countries, views of the US are roughly as unfavorable as they were in March 2003, when the invasion of Iraq began.

Pew surveyed 13,273 respondents in 13 countries over the phone between June and Aug. 2020.

Washington earned its worst overall scores this year since Pew began conducting these surveys around two decades ago. Across the nine European countries surveyed, a median of 33% of respondents had a favorable view of the US.

The survey adds to the growing body of evidence that the image of the US in Europe has collapsed under Donald Trump’s presidency. He has withdrawn the US from multilateral institutions like the World Health Organization and key treaties like the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal. He’s also attacked NATO and supported Brexit, while imposing tariffs on European goods.

What seems to have tipped Europe over the edge is the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the US has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak,” the survey found, while a median of 57% said the European Union had done a good job.

It’s not just Europeans who are judging the US harshly. A Gallup poll released today found that only 14% of Americans say they are satisfied with how things are going in their country.