Europe Poll: “US biggest threat to Peace”

Perceived greatest threat to global securityEuropeans consistently regard the US as the biggest threat to world stability, a new poll reveals on Monday.

A survey carried out in June by Harris Research for the Financial Times shows that 32 per cent of respondents in five European countries regard the US as a bigger threat than any other state.

In the US itself, North Korea and Iran are seen as the biggest risks. However, the youngest US respondents share the Europeans’ view that theirs is the biggest threat, with 35 per cent of American 16- to 24-year-olds identifying it as the chief danger to stability.

The level of European concern about the US has remained broadly consistent over the past year. In 11 previous polls dating back to July 2006 the proportion of respondents considering the US a threat to stability has ranged between 28 per cent and 38 per cent.

The latest poll comes in the wake of the “surge” that has increased US forces in Iraq to about 160,000 troops, but which has not been accompanied by political breakthroughs or a dramatic reduction of violence. During President George W. Bush’s second term the administration has also embarked on a more consensual international approach to issues such as Iran’s nuclear programme and North Korea’s nuclear bomb.

But the poll shows that the European public still considers Mr Bush a risk.

“It is evidence of the continued estrangement between the European public and the Bush administration, in spite of a real improvement in official ties,” said Ron Asmus, head of the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund, which works to bolster transatlantic ties.

“It is proof that the next president will be confronted with the major challenge of improving America’s image abroad, starting with Europe and our main allies.”

Inhabitants of Spain are most concerned about the US, with 46 per cent of respondents naming America as the biggest threat.

European poll respondents – who also come from France, Germany, Italy and the UK – are increasingly concerned about China, which 19 per cent perceive as the biggest threat, up from 12 per cent last July.

Meanwhile, 17 per cent identify Iran as the biggest threat, 11 per cent Iraq and 9 per cent North Korea. Only 5 per cent single out Russia, despite increased tensions between Moscow and the west.

The poll’s data on the US indicate that 25 per cent of Americans see North Korea as the biggest threat, followed by Iran with 23 per cent, China with 20 per cent, and the US itself with 11 per cent.

The poll is consistent with findings last week by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which found that favourable ratings of the US had declined in 26 of 33 countries over the past five years.

But the Pew poll also contrasted unfavourable ratings of the US with much more positive responses in Israel, Poland, Japan, India and parts of Africa and Latin America.

The survey for the Financial Times was carried out online by Harris Interactive between July 2006 and June 2007. More than 1,000 people were polled in each country each month.

(story and picture from ft.com)

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