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Implications of Pew Study on “Major Threat” Perceptions Around the Globe


by Gordon M. Hahn

Recent Pew research surveys conducted in 38 and 30 countries, respectively, across the globe suggest the following troubling trends for Washington: American hegemony is waning; Russian public diplomacy may be making some inroads in many countries, including some NATO countries, the world is increasingly split apart between the West (plus Japan) and all the rest, and the effectiveness of China’s ‘quiet rise’ economy- and trade-based foreign policy

Despite Washington’s and Brussels’ conclusion that Russia is the greatest threat to global and Western security and efforts to spread that view through various strategic communications efforts, ISIS registered as the “major threat” most frequently mentioned across each region of the world but most of all in Europe. Climate change and the state of the global economy followed. Moreover, in 26 countries the U.S. was more often cited as a greater threat than was Russia, where in only 10 was Russia seen as a greater threat than the U.S. Overall, across the globe 35 percent mentioned the U.S. as a “major threat”, while 31 percent mentioned Russia( A comparison of the results of Pew’s annual spring survey conducted in 30 countries in 2013 and 2017 demonstrates that the number of persons around the globe who see the U.S. as a threat grew from 25 percent to 38 percent in that period. By comparison Russia and China were each viewed as a major threat by “(a)bout three-in-ten” (

The ‘new cold war’ and its Russian and American dueling propaganda campaigns has created new divisions within the West, which may indicate that Russian actions or at least propaganda seem to be getting a better reception in large parts of the West. The new cold ad propaganda wars have led to an increase of 8 or more percentage points of those in several traditional American allies who view that the U.S. is a major threat, including Australia (13 points) and the UK (11 points). Concern about U.S. power is up 10 points in Canada, Germany and Sweden, and 8 points in France and the Netherlands( There are four NATO member-countries the populations of which are more inclined to consider the US more of a “major threat” than Russia to their own country: Canada, Germany, Greece, Spain, and Turkey. Turkey is especially negatively predisposed towards the U.S. There, 72 percent considering it a major threat compared to ‘only’ 54 percent who consider Russia to be such ( Thus, it appears that America’s Ukraine and/or Syria policies, despite what Washington and NATO regard as “Russian aggression” and “Assad regime’s chemical attacks”, have not redounded to good effect in terms of the American image abroad, including among many of its closest allies.

Like Russia, China is regarded to a lesser threat than the US in more countries: the U.S. is seen as such in 24, China in 13. The fact that China This suggests that in terms of public diplomacy and image economic-led expansion of a country’s influence is more effective than military-political expansion. China has extended its military and political footprint only in the South China Sea and larger Pacific/Southeast Asia region, respectively. The U.S. has done so globally. China may even compare favorably with Russia. Moscow has extended military-politically across Eurasia and into the Middle East, so that despite having far greater economic weight than Russia, China is seen as a greater threat than Russia in only four more (20 versus 16) countries, with one tie (in Nigeria).

The Pew Study is not the only study with such results. The German Koerber Foundation in Berlin found that Germans view Trump’s America as a larger concern for Germany than Kim’s North Korea, Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey. Immigration ranked first among foreign policy concerns for 26 percent of Germans, followed by Trump at 19 percent, Turkey at 17 percent, North Korea at 10 percent and Russia at 8 percent (

In sum, suggests that the U.S. is losing the image war with its top competitors; Russia and China ( This becomes very problematic given that Russia and China are united in a veritable alliance against the key U.S. and Western policies of humanitarian intervention (e.g. Syria), democracy-promotion and color revolution (e.g., Ukraine), and most of all NATO expansion (Ukraine, Georgia, etc.).


1 comment

  1. It is a good thing that the world is awakening to the desire of the U.S.A for world hegemony. And to its promotion of turbulence in order to sell weapons and make money. Our USA economy is built on weapon sales largely.

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