Thursday 18 July 2019

'Most Americans disapprove of Trump's foreign policy decisions'

Partisan divide: Republicans and Democrats are split on how Donald Trump is doing. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Partisan divide: Republicans and Democrats are split on how Donald Trump is doing. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Deb Riechmann and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington

A majority of Americans disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling US foreign policy and about half think the country's global standing will deteriorate during the next year, according to a new poll that highlights the nation's partisan divide on foreign issues.

The poll, conducted by Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research, also found the public split about the president's plan to remove US troops from Syria and possibly Afghanistan - and about a quarter don't have an opinion one way or the other.

Overall, the president receives low marks from the public for his job handling foreign policy - 35pc approve, while 63pc disapprove. Like other issues, the partisan divide is startling - 76pc of Republicans approve, but just 8pc of Democrats say the same.

"I just think that any time you buddy up with Russia or North Korea, it's going to be bad business," said Samantha Flowers, a 30-year-old third-grade teacher from Columbia, Missouri.

"Also, the way that he's handling our neighbouring countries - Mexico in particular. I think it just goes against our American values in general. We've been a welcoming and compassionate country," she said before starting to recite words emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty, which reads in part: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

Richard Cleaveland, a 65-year-old truck driver from Ogden, Utah, disagrees and wholeheartedly backs Mr Trump and his foreign policy.

"I think he's doing a good job with North Korea. He's done better than anybody else has ever done. Nobody else has even got it this far with North Korea," he said referring to Mr Trump's meeting last year in Singapore with the North Korean leader to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

The poll showed 39pc of Americans approve of pulling the 2,000 American troops from Syria, and 35pc say they disapprove. The president's decision is supported by 56pc of Republicans and 26pc of Democrats.

Last month, Mr Trump announced that Isil militants had been defeated in Syria and that American troops would be brought home "now". The plan triggered the resignation of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and criticism from US allies and national security experts. Later, Mr Trump and others appeared to adjust the timeline, saying it will likely take several months to safely withdraw American forces from Syria.

Americans have similar views about the president's expected decision to pull at least some US troops out of Afghanistan, with 41pc saying they would approve of a pullout versus 30pc who disapprove.

The nation's partisan divide is evident when it comes to Americans' views of the US's role in the world, its global standing and its relationships with other nations.

Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say the US should play a more active role in solving the world's problems. Some 43pc of Democrats think the US should be more active, compared with 23pc who think it should be less active; another 32pc of Democrats say its current role is about right.

Republicans see it differently. Four in 10 Republicans say the US should be less active in solving the world's problems, while 46pc think the current role in world affairs is right. Just 13pc of Republicans think the US role abroad should be more active.

Republicans also think the nation's global standing and relationships with other countries will improve (44pc) or stay the same (35pc) during the next year. Democrats largely (77pc) expect US relations with other nations will worsen.

"I feel like right now, with the way things are going with our current president, that we will be seen as a joke," said Tamika Allen, a 25-year-old medical claims trainer from Houston, adding that America's reputation around the world wouldn't diminish immediately, but slowly over time.

Irish Independent

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