The past year witnessed bloodshed in Syria and Iraq, turmoil in Egypt, anarchy in Central Africa, threats by a nuclear-armed North Korea and Chinese military posturing, but as 2013 ends a global poll finds that the country seen as representing the greatest threat to peace today is … the United States.
Not only did the U.S. top the list with an aggregate of 24 percent, but the runner-up threat country, Pakistan, was way behind at eight percent. China was third at six percent, followed by North Korea, Iran and Israel at five percent each.
The survey of opinions across 65 countries by pollster Win/Gallup International recorded some of the strongest anti-American sentiment, predictably, in countries widely regarded as rivals, led by Russia (where 54 percent of respondents said the U.S. was the greatest threat to peace) and China (49 percent).
But the view that the U.S. poses the greatest threat to peace was also strongly held in some purported U.S. allies – such as NATO partners Greece and Turkey (45 percent each), and Pakistan (44 percent), which is also a top recipient of U.S. aid.
Two other countries where strongly negative opinion of the U.S. was found were Bosnia, a candidate for European Union membership (49 percent), and, closer to home, Argentina (46 percent).
Elsewhere in Latin America the U.S. topped the list of threats to peace for a significant number of respondents in Mexico (37 percent), Brazil (26 percent) and Peru (24 percent).
Paradoxically, just because people view the U.S. as the biggest threat doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t like to move there if they could.
The pollsters also asked, “If there were no barriers to living in any country of the world, which country would you like to live in?” Some countries where the U.S.-as-greatest-threat view holds strong are also those where America would be a prized destination as a new home country.
That pattern was especially evident for Greece, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico, where the U.S. topped the list of places where people would like to live if they could.
Among Islamic countries polled, the U.S. and Israel generally vied for the top place as world’s greatest threat: Algerian respondents picked U.S. (37 percent) followed by Israel (22 percent); Indonesians named the U.S. (34 percent), followed by Israel (27 percent), as did Malaysians – the U.S. (25 percent), then Israel (22 percent).
For Iraqis the greatest threat came from Israel (24 percent), then the U.S. (21 percent); Lebanese selected Israel by a large margin (41 percent), followed by the U.S. (23 percent), as did Moroccan respondents – Israel (45 percent), then the U.S. (17 percent), and those in Tunisia – Israel (38 percent), followed by the U.S. (27 percent).
Neither Iran nor Egypt were among the countries polled by Win/Gallup International.