Is the World Ready for Mitt Romney?

That's not up to him to decide, really, is it?

Mitt Romney talks a lot about wanting to restore America's standing in the world and perceptions about its strength. But the reality is that the world is going to consider him on its own terms and his calls for a posture of greater American toughness -- even while continuing Obama's policies on the ground -- seem likely to rankle global leaders who are less prepared even than hardcore Democrats in America for a possible Romney win. From the Washington Post:

From Europe to China to the Middle East, perceptions of the contest have lagged behind indications that the two men are in a virtual dead heat. Obama remains widely popular abroad, and there are signs that many leaders are unprepared for a Romney presidency.

In Western Europe, few people can imagine Romney in office. In China, officials have been focused on the intrigues of their impending leadership transition, though many worry that both American candidates have been beating up on their country instead of pummeling each other. And in the Middle East, political chaos has kept many activists and officials from contemplating the election much at all....

One survey last month from the German Marshall Fund found Europeans breaking 75 percent for Obama and 8 percent for Romney....

A mid-October Emnid poll for the Bild newspaper found that 82 percent of Germans expected Obama to win, compared with 11 percent expecting a Romney victory....

In Britain, Romney is viewed as representing a party that has swung further and further to the right on social issues, thus sharing less affinity with his counterparts on this side of the Atlantic than Republicans once did. The coalition government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, has embraced the cause of same-sex marriage and vowed to vigorously combat global warming.

America's closest allies may be in for a rude awakening on November 7th, should Romney pull off a win. Their lack of preparation for a Romney presidency and sharp ideological differences with him seem likely to immediately complicate any Romney moves to do what he is saying his election would in terms of improving America's standing globally. The problem under Bush wasn't just that America was disliked by the Arab world because of the Iraq War and the administration's support for torture techniques like water-boarding -- it was that our standing with our European allies tumbled. It's hard to see how Romney could improve upon what Obama has done to repair those relationships in the near-term, given his well-demonstrated disdain for European social attitudes and economic policies, and what a shock an Obama loss would be to European citizens.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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