John McCain: U.S. Leadership Is Worse Under Trump Than Obama

Committee chairman U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) delivers an statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S. January 12, 2017. Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

America's reputation on the world stage has dived since President Donald Trump took office from Barack Obama, Senator John McCain declared over the weekend, laying into the leadership of Trump and his team.

The Guardian asked the Republican senator from Arizona what he thought of Trump's foreign policy, including his erratic tweeting and an ongoing feud with London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim. Following the London Bridge attack on June 3, which left eight dead and dozens injured, Trump had tweeted that Khan's response was "pathetic." McCain was apparently "visibly irked" when asked what message he thought the American president was sending to Britain.

"What do you think the message is?" McCain told The Guardian. "The message is that America doesn't want to lead." The entire world is now left wondering as to America's role in global affairs, he suggested. "They are not sure of American leadership, whether it be in Siberia or whether it be in Antarctica."

The words hold added weight given that, McCain was a vocal critic of the Obama administration. He famously gave Obama an "F" grade on foreign policy at the end of his second term. But asked whether America's standing on the global stage was better under Obama, McCain was clear: "As far as American leadership is concerned, yes." (One wonders what grade that leaves Trump with.)

The new president's unpopularity is reflected in polls around the world. While Obama's approval ratings surpassed 80 percent in France and Germany, with France even petitioning to have Obama as their next president, Trump only appears to inspire anger and opposition abroad.

Trump last week told British Prime Minister Theresa May that in light of public protests planned for Trump's potential state visit to the U.K., he did not want to go ahead until the public supported him coming. Last year, a poll revealed that 85 percent of respondents in 10 EU countries had no confidence in Trump. Another found that his popularity ratings on the continent languished in single digits.

For many close to the president, Twitter is at the heart of their worries—and their concerns go beyond his popularity. "I've said a number of times: it'd be easier if Trump wasn't tweeting so much," Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican and a member of the Senate foreign relations committee, told The Guardian in the same article. "In terms of foreign policy, this is going to have serious consequences."