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If there is one place in the world where Trump is popular it is Israel

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President Donald Trump is one of the most controversial world leaders in modern times, igniting the ire of America’s staunchest allies.

Whether it’s the proposed Muslim ban, the U.S. border wall and immigration, or his praise of authoritarian leaders, Trump is deft at inciting deep divisions among the public.

In 2018, political scientist Daniel Drezner summarized this consensus in The Washington Post: “The world hates President Trump.”

Data from the Pew Research Center illustrates Drezner’s thinking. For the residents of U.S. allies, their confidence in the U.S. president dropped substantially from the last year of Obama’s presidency to the beginning of Trump’s time in office.

So, where might Trump be popular overseas, and just where might he be electable? As a political scientist who has written about the U.S. image abroad, this question fascinates me.

Authoritarian states like Trump

Most of the world might hate Trump, but in some places, based largely on his policies, there is hope and even admiration.

In 2016 and 2017, Gallup asked respondents in more than 100 countries, “Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?” In 29 countries, Trump outdid Obama in terms of job performance.

When I look at these countries and compare them with data from Freedom House on which countries are democracies and nondemocracies, a pattern emerges. Trump is more popular than Obama among people in authoritarian nations.


Among regions around the world that seem to feel the most pro-Trump, Africa stands out.

In January 2018, The Washington Post reported that Trump derided immigrants coming from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. Trump said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He added, “We need more people from Norway.”

The African Union issued an immediate response: “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.”

Nigeria’s response, however, was more tepid. A few months later, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was the first head of state from sub-Saharan Africa to visit the White House. When pressed on the matter of Trump’s remarks at a joint press conference, Buhari remarked, “I’m not sure about, you know, the validity or whether that allegation against the president was true or not,” adding, “So, the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”

What could explain this turn of events? One explanation may be that Nigerians like Trump. According to data from the Pew Research Center, Nigerian confidence in Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs was at 59% in 2018, higher than some points during the Obama administration.

Data on Trump’s total followers on Twitter may also shed some light. As of this writing, among those active Twitter accounts that follow Trump, those based in Nigeria rank in the top five. But this is notwithstanding the fact that more and more Twitter accounts are hacked and sometimes controlled by bots.

Some of Trump’s foreign policies in Nigeria might explain his relative popularity. In February 2017, President Trump approved the sale of jet fighters to the Nigerian government, reversing a policy from the Obama administration. This aided the Nigerian government in its campaign against Boko Haram.

South Korea

South Korea is another country where the public is warming to Trump’s approach – particularly with North Korea.

Trump has made it a major priority of his administration to develop a personal relationship with North Korea’s reclusive leader, Kim Jong Un. To date, Trump has had three face-to-face meetings with Kim.

Until Trump, a sitting American president had never visited with a North Korean head of state while in office. Prior to Trump’s tenure, the highest-level visit between these two countries ever was former President Bill Clinton’s trip to Pyongyang in 2009.

Although Trump is still far from being beloved among South Koreans, they see his meetings with Kim as a good thing overall for the Korean peninsula. Confidence in Trump has risen, from 17% in 2017 to 44% in 2018 among people in South Korea.

And data from Gallup’s Korean headquarters illustrate that favorability toward Trump among South Koreans has more than doubled, from a paltry 9% in 2017 to a high of 32% in 2018.

Part of the reason for Trump’s relative success with North Korea to date is South Korea’s concurrent interest in fostering more high-profile diplomatic talks between Washington and Pyongyang.


If there’s one place in the world where Trump’s policies seem to be enjoying the most public support, it would be Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly praised Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.

That same month, after Trump pledged to move the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Netanyahu compared Trump to King Cyrus the Great, from 2,500 years ago, who “proclaimed that the Jewish exiles in Babylon could come back and rebuild our Temple in Jerusalem.”

As in the case of Nigeria and South Korea, Trump’s popularity in Israel seems to be a reversal of his predecessor. Frosty personal relations plagued Obama and Netanyahu, beginning with Obama’s first major foreign policy address to the Arab world in Cairo in 2009. This culminated in Netanyahu’s visit to Congress in 2015, when he urged Congress to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement.

In 2016, prior to the rise of Trump, Israelis ranked Obama as the worst U.S. president for Israel in the last 30 years.

Trump, in the meantime, has surpassed Obama and is far more beloved in Israel. In July 2018, a poll found that since the election of Donald Trump, 53% of Israelis felt U.S. standing in the world had gotten stronger, compared to just 14% who felt it had stayed the same and 21% who felt it was weakened.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Monti Datta

Monti Datta is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond. He teaches classes on international relations, research methods, global governance, anti-Americanism & world opinion, and human rights & modern day slavery.

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9 Responses

  1. Kay24 on September 17, 2019, 11:33 am

    As one reporter put it, Trump is Bibi’s running mate. There are apparently bill boards and leaflets with a picture of the two men. Something he has never seen before he said.
    Two crooks, both under investigation.

    • Marnie on September 17, 2019, 11:06 pm

      You really have to see it to get the full bile in the throat effect. What’s missing are bars and orange jumpsuits of course. ‘yahoo plans on never leaving office and 45 is making the same threats. What does the world offer to end this madness – thoughts and prayers?

  2. JLewisDickerson on September 17, 2019, 2:01 pm

    RE: “According to data from the Pew Research Center, Nigerian confidence in Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs was at 59% in 2018, higher than some points during the Obama administration.” ~ Monti Datta

    SEE: “Evangelical Christianity is big in Nigeria — 87 football fields big” | By Rowan Moore Gerety | | November 14, 2013

    [EXCERPT] If you’re going out on a Friday night in Lagos, Nigeria, chances are you’re headed to church.

    All-night prayer vigils are at the core of the country’s booming Pentecostal movement. Some churches draw worshippers in the hundreds of thousands.

    At one church, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Friday night vigils take place in what locals call an “auditorium.” It’s a covered pavilion the size of 87 football fields, and it’s not quite big enough. The church has already cleared ground for a bigger one. . .


    • JLewisDickerson on September 17, 2019, 2:10 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “Nigeria’s Christian Zionists” | By Ogaga Ifowodo | | 17 October 2014

      [EXCERPT] As the horrors of the latest battle in the unending Israeli-Palestinian war shocked the world and Nigerian Christians cheered Israel to victory, I recalled a Pentecostal church service I attended in the southern city of Warri at the insistence of my born-again niece.

      Didn’t Jehovah create the Palestinians? Aren’t they his children too?

      The pastor urged his congregation to pray for Israel, once again threatened by her philistine neighbours. Then ensued a paroxysm of prayer and speaking- in-tongues.

      The pastor stoked the frenzy: “Nothing the Palestinians could do would make God break his promise to his chosen people.”

      “So why pray?”, I blurted out. No one noticed. I turned to my niece and asked her: “Didn’t Jehovah create the Palestinians? Aren’t they his children too? Why would he promise the land belonging to some of his children to some other children? Why would God the father play favouritism with his children?”

      Her response: “You can’t question God.”

      Three decades later, I ask the same questions of a cousin in whose living room we are viewing images of Israel’s unrestrained use of force in Gaza. He tells me the Palestinians do not deserve pity. . .


    • JLewisDickerson on September 17, 2019, 2:37 pm

      P.P.S. AND SEE:

      Christianity in Nigeria –

      Evangelical Church Winning All –

      ■ Historical Overview of Pentecostalism in Nigeria –

    • JLewisDickerson on September 17, 2019, 2:51 pm

      “Antisemitic beliefs spreading among evangelical Christians in America” | By Julie Zauzmer | | 23 August 2019

      [EXCERPT] As she cleans up the counter where the teenagers at her church’s Vacation Bible School ate their cookies and yoghurt, Luba Yanko complains about the state of the country. President Donald Trump is trying to act on Christian values, she believes. But from what she reads online, it seems that a certain group keeps getting in the way.

      Trump, she says, “is surrounded by a Zionist environment with completely different values from Christians. It’s kabbalist. It’s Talmudic values. Not the word of God.”

      In other words: It’s the Jews’ fault.

      “Why do we have pro-abortion, pro-LGBTQ values, and we do not have more freedom to protect our faith? We are persecuted now,” Yanko says about evangelical Christians like herself. “[Jews] say, ‘We’ve got America. We control America.’ That’s what I know.”

      It’s an anti-Semitic viewpoint shared by a number of evangelical Christians across the country. . .


      • Sibiriak on September 17, 2019, 3:56 pm

        “Antisemitic beliefs spreading among evangelical Christians in America”

        Oh my! Antisemitism. There’s lots of evangelicals– so antisemitism could be a huge problem in America! We need to talk more about antisemitism. Antisemitism.

      • JLewisDickerson on September 19, 2019, 10:35 am

        Evangelism in Nigeria – Reinhard Bonnke
        658,515 views | Published on Jan 16, 2011

      • JLewisDickerson on September 19, 2019, 10:50 am

        SPIRITUAL WARFARE!!! Demon Vs Pastor
        1,524,484 views | Published on Jan 15, 2013
        Emmanuel TV
        1.4M subscribers
        A demon within this young man is exposed at this prayer session in The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations. In the ensuing encounter with Wise Man Christopher, a spiritual battle between light and darkness takes place. Light conquers and he receives an incredible deliverance in the name of Jesus Christ!
        The Synagogue, Church of All Nations
        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –,_Church_of_All_Nations
        [EXCERPT] The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) is a non-denominational Christian ministry located in Lagos, Nigeria. [1] . . .

        The Synagogue, Church of All Nations
        Location Lagos, Nigeria
        Country Nigeria
        Denomination Non-denominational, Charismatic
        Weekly attendance 50,000
        Founded 1989
        Founder(s) T.B. Joshua
        Senior pastor(s) T.B. Joshua

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