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Posted on Mar 15, 12:35PM | IANS
Washington, March 14 : World opinion of American leadership has sunk to its lowest level in four years, says a new poll by the Gallup research firm.
The survey of people in 130 countries says 41 percent approved of the job performance by US President Barack Obama and other American leaders in 2012, the third year in a row of declining ratings, since a 49 percent approval number in 2009, Obama's first year as president.
"The image of US leadership worldwide was weaker at the end of Obama's fourth year in office than at any point during his first administration," the report said.
The shift "suggests that Obama and new Secretary of State John Kerry may not find global audiences as receptive to advancing the US agenda as they have in the past. In fact, they may even find audiences increasingly critical - even in key partner countries," it said.
The 41 percent world approval rating for US leadership in 2012 was up, however, from the 34 percent in 2008, at the end of George W. Bush's final term as president.
"One of the challenges is that President Obama came in with really high expectations," said Gallup project director Jon Clifton, according to the Washington Post.
Breaking down regions of the world, Europe led the decline from 2011 to 2012 with a six percent drop in approval of US leadership, and an 11 percent overall drop since 2009.
The drop suggests the US "was likely shouldering some of the blame for the ongoing financial crisis in Europe", the report said.
It said that "views of US leadership continued to worsen in some countries hard hit by the economic crisis, suffering double-digit losses in Hungary, Croatia, Macedonia, and Austria".
The European country that gave the lowest approval rating to US leadership in 2012 was Russia, where 13 percent of those surveyed said they approved of the job US leaders were doing, a seven percent drop from 2011.
The nations giving US leadership the lowest approval rating, 12 percent, were Pakistan and Iran.
The image of American leadership was strongest in Africa, where the approval rating was 70 percent, much of it from sub-Saharan Africa and Libya (54 percent), where US support for the Libyan revolution may have led to a strong sense of goodwill toward the US.
The survey in Libya was done before the deadly September 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including the US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Researchers interviewed about 1,000 people in each country at various points throughout the year; a sampling the surveyors said was representative of 98 percent of the world's adult population.
Participants were asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the US?"