18 January 2018   Leave a comment

The Gallup Organization has released a new report, “Rating World Leaders, 2018: The US vs. Germany, Russia, and China“.  Gallup has asked this question every year for a number of years and therefore has a good baseline to assess changes in world opinion.  The polled people in 134 countries and the conclusions of the report are straightforward:

“This year marks a significant change in our trends. Only 30% of the world, on average, approves of the job performance of the U.S.’s leadership, down from 48% in 2016. In fact, more people now disapprove of U.S. leadership than approve. This historic low puts the U.S.’s leadership approval rating on par with China’s and sets a new bar for disapproval.

“But more important is the shift this has created in the global balance of soft power and what that means for U.S. influence abroad. With its stable approval rating of 41%, Germany has replaced the U.S. as the top-rated global power in the world. The U.S. is now on nearly even footing with China (31%) and barely more popular than Russia (27%) — two countries that Trump sees as rivals seeking to “challenge American influence, values and wealth.”

Unfortunately, the declines are most pronounced in countries that count as important allies of the US.

 

There are concerns about a far-right group in Germany, called the Reichsbürger group, which has increased its membership by 56% this last year to about 15,600 members.  The group, whose name means “citizens of the Reich” believe that the true boundaries of Germany are the ones in place in 1871 and that all governments since then, including the Nazis, were and are illegitimate.  Some of the members are well-armed and are waiting for “Day X” which is a day when there will be an uprising against the German government.   The group remains a fringe group in Germany, but its recent growth in membership mirrors the growth of right-wing groups in Europe and the US.

 

It is hard to describe the situation in Venezuela where prices are rising at the rate of 80% a month.  Money is worthless and the economic system seems to be running on barter.  But barter does not induce production nor does it pay for imported goods, so there is precious little to trade.  Most stores have been stripped clean by looters and there is no way to restock the stores without money.  There is no willingness on the part of the government to make any compromises with the opposition.  It is hard to imagine a country as potentially rich as Venezuela being so close to total collapse and it is also hard to see what a total collapse of an economy looks like in the 21st century.

 

 

Posted January 18, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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