With the anti-Russia rhetoric spewing forth from the mainstream media in the United States, it's starting to look like Part II of the Cold War is upon us, particularly if the presidential glass ceiling is broken this fall. With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at a survey on the Levada website which looks at how Russians feel about the current president of the United States and how they feel about the two remaining main party candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What is interesting about Levada, a Russia-based, non-governmental research organization, is that, unlike most polling institutions around the globe that rely on the telephone for their statistics, they actually conduct their polling through the use of personal interviews in respondents' homes.
Let's start by looking at the results for the following question and how Russians' attitudes have changed:
"What is your attitude towards the President of the United States, Barack Obama?"
Here are the results from July 2009 to August 2016:
It is interesting to see how Barack Obama's positive rating has plummeted since February 2011, dropping from a combined positive (including both very positive and mostly positive results) of 55 percent to only 7 percent in the latest poll.
Let's change direction for a moment. Let's look at the approval rating for Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkey's president Recep Erdogan, Barack Obama and Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko:
It is interesting to note that Barack Obama's combined negative of 83 percent (including both mostly negative and very negative results) is just short of the combined negative totalling 86 percent for the strongly anti-Russia Petro Poroshenko.
Now, let's look at how the 2016 cycle presidential candidates stack up in the eyes of Russia:
It's not terribly surprising that a Donald Trump presidency is viewed as more favourable to Russia than a Hillary Clinton presidency by a wide margin among those who are following the U.S. pre-election campaign. Given that Ms. Clinton has blamed Russia for the leaking of the Democratic National Committee emails which clearly showed that the DNC was looking for ways to rid itself of Bernie Sanders and that she believes that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election cycle, it looks like it could be a difficult relationship between America and Russia should another Clinton take control of the Oval Office.
In closing, let's look at the contents of an August 25, 2016 speech that Hillary Clinton gave in Reno, Nevada:
“Just yesterday, one of Britain’s most prominent right-wing leaders, a man named Nigel Farage, who stoked anti-immigrant sentiments to win the referendum to have Britain leave the European Union, campaigned with Donald Trump in Mississippi.
Farage has called for a bar on the children of legal immigrants from public schools and health services, has said women are and I quote “worth less” than men, and supports scrapping laws that prevent employers from discriminating based on race -- that’s who Donald Trump wants by his side when he is addressing an audience of American voters.
And the grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism is Russian President Vladimir Putin.” (my bold)
This is a follow-up to her speech of March 4, 2014 where she compared Vladimir Putin to Adolph Hitler at a private event that took place shortly after Russia acted to protect its citizens in Crimea:
““Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s. All the Germans that were ... the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”
Interestingly, despite Hillary Clinton’s comparison of Putin to Hitler, less than two weeks later, a referendum in Crimea saw 96.77 percent of voters vote in favour of leaving Ukraine to join the Russian Federation with an 83.1 percent voter turnout.
If we think that the relationship between the Russian Federation and the United States is bad now, it may get far, far worse.