This week, President Obama gave himself and his administration credit for putting the United States at the top of the list of respected countries in the world. “People don’t remember, when I came into office, the United States in world opinion ranked below China, barely above Russia,” he said. “And today, once again, the United States is the most respected country on Earth. Part of that, I think, is the work that we did to reengage the world, and say that ‘We want to work with you as partners, with mutual interest and mutual respect,’ “ he claims.
What a lovely sentiment—if it were true. But it’s simply not. Not by far.
Yes, there is an index ranking countries by how they’re respected throughout the world. But the US isn’t on top. It’s not in the top 5. Or the top 10.
In fact, the US isn’t even in the top 20 most respected on the planet—it comes in at #22 on the Reputation Institute’s “Most Reputable Countries – 2014”. Those with a “strong” reputation fill positions 1-9 while those considered “moderate” rank 20th or higher.
The US is, in actuality, labeled “weak” in reputation—most certainly above China and Russia but under Brazil. Indeed, the US is less reputable worldwide than Singapore.
Singapore was deemed noteworthy by Human Rights Watch in 2014—the same year the US ranked below it in reputation—for charging online news outlets a bond and licensing fee of over $39,000 for printing “at least one Singapore-related news article per week,” for judicial caning for nonviolent crimes, and for failing to be in compliance with international standards regarding human trafficking.
America did rank at the top of one recent survey. The US was rated as the greatest threat to world peace by a 2014 global Gallup poll of 68 countries, scoring three times higher than the next greatest perceived threat — Iran.
As for Obama’s claim that the United States improved its ranking? He’s off the mark there, as well. The US slid 2% from the previous year.
Obama’s utterly baseless claim of an exemplary world ranking holds less credibility than wet tissue paper; but in claiming as such, he highlights the reputation where America likely does hold the top position—hubris.
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