August 1, 2017

Globally, more people see U.S. power and influence as a major threat

Concerns about American power and influence have risen in countries around the world amid steep drops in U.S. favorability and confidence in the U.S. president.

Across 30 nations surveyed by Pew Research Center both in 2013 and this spring, a median of 38% now say U.S. power and influence poses a major threat to their country, up 13 percentage points from 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.

It’s worth noting that worries about all three countries trail concerns about other tested threats. People are much more likely to feel threatened by ISIS and climate change, in particular, but also by the condition of the global economy, cyberattacks, and refugees from countries like Iraq and Syria.

Nevertheless, the proportion of the public that views American power as a major threat to their country grew in 21 of the 30 nations between 2013 and 2017. The largest increases occurred in Spain (42 percentage points), Chile (34 points), and Turkey and Ghana (28 points each).

Just in the past year, perceptions of the U.S. as a major threat have increased by at least 8 percentage points among several long-standing American allies, including Australia (13 points) and the UK (11 points). Concern about U.S. power is up 10 points in Canada, Germany and Sweden, and 8 points in France and the Netherlands.

In other countries, however, fewer people see the U.S. as a major threat compared with four years ago. In Poland and India, for example, the share of people who believe U.S. power is a large concern for their country decreased by 8 percentage points. And in Russia, the Philippines and Jordan, perceptions of American power as a major threat did not change between 2013 and 2017.

U.S. power and influence ranks as the top threat in only one country – Turkey (72%) – where it ranks 8 points higher than the second-greatest concern, refugee displacement from countries like Iraq and Syria. (Due to security concerns, the survey did not ask people in Turkey about the threat posed by ISIS.)

In Japan, people see China and the U.S. as almost equally threatening: 62% of Japanese respondents see the U.S. as a major threat while 64% say the same for China. On the other hand, fewer than one-in-five in Israel (17%) and Poland (15%) say American power is a major threat.

America’s neighbors, Mexico and Canada, both see the U.S. as more threatening than either China or Russia. In Mexico, a 61% majority perceives U.S. power as a major threat. And in Canada, 38% feel threatened by the U.S. This figure exceeds Canadians’ threat ratings of Russian and Chinese power (30% and 25%, respectively).

Concerns about U.S. power and influence differ by demographic groups across a number of key U.S. allies. In Australia, for example, women are 20 percentage points more likely than men to feel American power is a major threat. Women are also considerably more likely to view the U.S. as a major concern in Canada (16 points), Japan (11 points), the UK (11 points) and France (10 points).

Those on the ideological left are also more likely than those on the right to see U.S. power and influence as a large concern. In the UK, for example, 52% of those on the left see American power as a major threat to their country. Just 29% of Brits on the right agree. The left-right gap is 22 percentage points in South Korea, 20 points in Canada, 18 points in Australia, 13 points in Greece, 11 points in Sweden and 8 points in the Netherlands.

Topics: U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism, Political Attitudes and Values, U.S. Political Figures, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Global Balance of Power

  1. Photo of Dorothy Manevich

    is a research analyst focusing on global attitudes at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Hanyu Chwe

    is a research assistant focusing on global attitudes at Pew Research Center.

16 Comments

  1. Anonymous1 week ago

    It is a shame that you do not publish results for Switzerland!

  2. Anonymous2 weeks ago

    The US is a failing superior power. Never ever has a US president been denied his way in so short a period after a popular verdict. Impotency is also shown in US handling of Korea and the ME where the most powerful army is unable to act and the others are doing what they want.

  3. Jerry Adlington2 weeks ago

    Can anyone guess how many people Americans have killed since the end of WW2?
    If you estimate 20 million, you are close.

    1. Anonymous1 week ago

      Killed by what?

  4. Roger Chapell2 weeks ago

    It would be interesting to know in what respect the see the US as a threat. I assume in most cases it is not a direct military threat but more a case that US policies threaten to destabilize indirectly through aggressive military adventures in some areas and sanctions in others. Then there is the US resistance to global environmental efforts. Generally there may appear to be an increasing use of non-diplomatic tools which set a growing trend of American aggressiveness in the world at large, in a word bullying.

  5. Anonymous2 weeks ago

    The US needs to return to non-interventionism.

    Both the establishment Democrats and Republicans are interventionist
    and sometimes warmongering.

    1. Tom Tchikofski2 weeks ago

      How come US is not included in the list?

    2. Tom Tchikofski2 weeks ago

      Noop – that’s not possible.
      Either US has to be naturalized via Russia or China or combination of both or this will continue indefinitely.

      Could you imagine, you’ve asked the terrorist on 911 to retrieve from the mission they were in to begin with while the airplane is just a mile a way from its target.

      America has been hijacked by foreign influence and will continue the course till it destroy itself.

      Another point to is that our economy is based on wars. any changes to it can also be destructive for your economy. It is a lose lose situation we are in no matter which angle you look at it from.

  6. Franco DeCelis2 weeks ago

    Do you think so? Lindsey Graham said yesterday that the thousands of fatalities to “curb” North Korea will happen “over there” meaning in South Korea and Japan not in America’s rather unlovely cities. This was after Pew’s Research had already shown that 70% of South Koreans rank the US asa major threat

  7. Anonymous3 weeks ago

    Wondering why Ukraine, Syria and Lithuania were not included?

    1. Anonymous2 weeks ago

      Do you really?

  8. Anonymous3 weeks ago

    No survey result from China ?

  9. Anonymous3 weeks ago

    Funny fact is, if American really leaves, they will beg American to stay.

    1. Anonymous2 weeks ago

      Ask the hundreds of thousands of Japanese and South Koreans protesting against the Okinawa military base and against the THAAD respectively.

      If there were elections to decide which countries wanted to stay in NATO for sure Spain, Germany and France would say: Leave.

  10. Packard Day3 weeks ago

    This poll should be seen as a green light for America to wish the entire world well, and then immediately drawdown our overseas military forces and our extensive commitments to such places as Germany, Poland, South Korea, Japan, the Persian Gulf, and even Puerto Rico.____Let’s trade with everyone. But, let us also make very clear that no country will live in fear due to America’s military presence. It should go without saying, of course, that defending their individual territorial interests are theirs to own and certainly not our business. This is as it should be. Otherwise, good luck and the kindest of thoughts to all.

    1. Anonymous2 weeks ago

      … and you are right. America should first clean up her ‘garden’ and then put it’s nose into someone’s else. So far, none of the countries where American army stayed or stays, finished well. Hope Poland will expel so called ‘friends’ and manage her own affairs without help of EU, America or UN.