Germans and Americans view each other positively but split on views of global threats
Stars and Stripes November 28, 2023
Americans are much likelier than Germans to view Russia and China as a major security threat, according to a new survey, which also found relations between the two NATO allies on the upswing.
A poll released Monday by the Pew Foundation showed confidence in the U.S.-German relationship, with 85% of Americans and 77% of Germans holding positive views.
In Germany, the sentiment toward the United States has improved during the past two years, a result that appears tied to the departure of Donald Trump from the White House in 2021.
During the Trump administration, “most Germans saw relations with the U.S. in a negative light as America’s image crumbled across Europe,” Pew said.
But while the results indicate that citizens in both countries feel upbeat about the two allies as partners on the world stage, views diverge on matters of security related to Russia and China.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans polled view Russia as a major military threat, while just 36% of Germans felt the same way, Pew said. Among Germans, 40% viewed Russia as a minor military threat.
Meanwhile, 21% of Germans said they don’t feel at all threatened by Russia, compared with just 5% of Americans, Pew said.
The disparities in Russia threat perceptions between the two countries aren’t new, but the gap has closed somewhat. The share of Germans who say Russia is a major threat increased 14 percentage points from 2022.
The war in Ukraine could be one reason for that change. Still, there is a relatively positive view of Russia among the right-wing Alternative for Germany party, which has grown as a political force in recent years due in large part to its anti-immigration position.
For example, 14% of AfD members named Russia as their country’s most important partner, compared with just 3% of overall respondents holding that view, according to the survey.
AfD supporters also are nearly split on whether it is more important to have a close relationship with the United States or Russia. The poll puts the former at 44%, the latter at 39%.
Differences on the security implications related to China are even starker, as about 70% of Americans see Beijing as a major economic and security threat.
Just 13% of Germans say the same, according to the survey. However, nearly 50% of Germans do see China as an economic threat, Pew found.
“Majorities in both the U.S. and Germany see China’s growing influence as a bad thing for their countries,” the poll said.
The survey was done in September and has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.