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22nd Sep 2019

Europeans see US as major world security risk

An opinion survey in the five largest EU states show most people continue to see the United States as the greatest threat to world stability, while the image of China has also suffered a blow.

According to an FT/Harris Poll published on Monday (2 July), 32 percent of Europeans – coming from Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain – labelled the US a bigger threat than any other state, with the Spaniards (46 percent) most critical.

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  • Young Americans tend to share the Europeans' view. (Photo: EUobserver)

The security image of China has also taken a blow, with 19 percent of European polled singling out the rapidly growing power in the east as the chief danger. The number has jumped up from 12 percent in July 2006.

The chart continues with Iran, being the number one threat to 17 percent of Europeans, Iraq (11 percent) and North Korea (9 percent).

Moscow has been singled out only by five percent of respondents, despite the recent threat of president Vladimir Putin to target Russian weapons on European territory if the US places parts of its anti-missile shield in Central Europe.

The US' poor image

Surprisingly, Americans aged from 16 to 24 years tend to share the Europeans' view, as 35 percent of them gave their country the worst mark. In total, 11 percent of Americans see themselves as the major security risk.

But in general, North Korea (25 percent) and Iran (23 percent) and China (20 percent) are seen as the biggest threat on the other side of the Atlantic.

According to Ron Asmus from the German Marshall Fund, the results of FT/Harris Poll are further "evidence of the continued estrangement between the European public and the Bush administration, in spite of a real improvement in official 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", Mr Asmus told the Financial Times.

EU-US relations suffered major damage in 2003 when the US-led coalition invaded Iraq as part of its war against terrorism. Most Europeans were sharply critical of US President Bush's unilateral move, as he had not taken its allies' interests into account.

Over the past five years, favourable ratings of Washington declined in 26 of 33 countries, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project also cited by the FT.

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