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Survey: More Germans, Japanese and S. Koreans see US as threat

U.S. Army tankers receive orders outside in the rain before climbing into their tanks to conduct live-fire training at Grafenwoehr, Germany, Tuesday, June 27, 2017.

MARTIN EGNASH/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 2, 2017

STUTTGART, Germany — A growing number of people in Germany, South Korea and Japan, all hubs for U.S. forces overseas, regard American power as a “major threat” on a par with traditional adversaries China and Russia, according to a new poll.

A poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found a broad decline in America’s international standing, with favorability rates declining by 13 percentage points among 30 countries examined since 2013.

“Concerns about U.S. power as a threat are comparable to worries over Chinese and Russian power in much of the world. About three-in-ten around the globe name China or Russia as a major threat,” Pew analysts wrote.

The proportion of the public that views American power as a major threat increased in 21 of the 30 nations between 2013 and 2017, Pew found in a poll of 42,000 people conducted between February and May.

The margin of error varied among countries, from plus or minus 3 percentage points to plus or minus 5 percentage points. The survey did not explain how respondents felt threatened but asked in general terms whether they regarded the power and influence of respective nations as a “major threat.”

In Germany, where President Donald Trump is deeply unpopular, concern about U.S. power increased by 10 percent in the past year alone. Now, 35 percent of Germans polled see U.S. power and influence as a major threat to their country, compared with 33 percent for Russia, which registered 31 percent last year.

The numbers were worse in the Pacific.

In Japan, people regard Chinese and American power and influence as almost equally threatening — 62 percent and 64 percent of respondents, respectively, take a fearful view of both countries.

In South Korea, 70 percent of respondents considered the U.S. a major threat, compared with 83 percent who held similar views toward China.

Japan, Germany and South Korea, together home to nearly 100,000 U.S. troops, host more American military personnel than any other foreign countries.

Still, while wary of the U.S., South Koreans and Japanese respondents consider the possibility of cyberattacks, climate change and the state of the global economy as even more pressing threats than U.S. power, albeit by a slight margin. In Germany, where there have been periodic terrorist attacks during the past year, 77 percent of respondents saw Islamic State as the top threat.

Only one country — Turkey — considered the U.S. to be the top overall threat. Seventy-two percent of Turkish respondents feared U.S. power and influence, 8 points higher than concerns over a refugee crisis that has strained the government in Ankara.

Because of security concerns, pollsters did not ask Turkish respondents about ISIS. Turkey, which borders Syria and Iraq, has been a frequent target for terrorist strikes during the past few years and has been a transit point for foreign fighters.

The U.S. has more than 3,000 troops operating in Turkey, the majority deployed to Incirlik Air Base, which dates to the Cold War. Last year, the U.S. was forced to pull American military spouses and children from Incirlik for security reasons.

While most nations registered increased concerns about American power, views improved in India and Poland, where concerns decreased by 8 percentage points from 2013. Meanwhile, perceptions held steady in Russia, the Philippines and Jordan between 2013 and 2017, Pew found.

The poll results were based on telephone and face-to-face interviews.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver

 

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