Naturally, more people see the U.S. as the greatest threat to world peace — and would like to live here

Huffington Post reports: There’s really no way to sugarcoat it: The rest of world believes that the United States is the country that poses the greatest threat to world peace, beating out all challengers by a wide margin.

This is the conclusion of a massive world opinion poll conducted by Win/Gallup International and released at the close of 2013. The poll, which was first conducted in 1977, asked over 66,000 thousand people across 65 countries this year a variety of questions about the world, including which country they would most like to call home, whether or not the world is becoming a generally better place and which country poses the greatest threat to world peace.

The U.S. was voted the biggest threat by far, garnering 24 percent of the vote. Pakistan was a very distant second with 8 percent, followed by China (6 percent) and Afghanistan (5 percent).

Emily Barasch at PolicyMic finds this assessment of the U.S. “startling.” But for people around the world to see the U.S. as a threat to world peace should be about as surprising as hearing that most people understand that a hippopotamus is a dangerous animal. Sure, a hippo might look like a cuddly animal, but anything that weighs 15,000 pounds and can run at 30 mph is potentially lethal.

The United States is the world’s military hippo — with none of the charm. No other country in modern history has spent as much money engaged in warfare or unleashed as much explosive force with its weaponry.

What’s most disturbing is that when Americans were asked which country they think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today, the largest number (20%) named Iran. But not only that — the more educated they were, the more likely they were to name Iran.

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3 thoughts on “Naturally, more people see the U.S. as the greatest threat to world peace — and would like to live here

  1. rosemerry

    As a person who would never again (I did once in 1967) even visit the USA, I find that so many people seem to want to migrate to the USA, despite all the terrible reports of life there as well as the foreign policy, because they are either desperate or grasping.

  2. Paul Woodward

    Rosemerry — Because the influence of the US extends to every corner of this planet, a lot of people who have very little or no experience of this country are under the mistaken impression that they know all about.

    Before I first came here, I had been to some unusual places at unusual times — such as passing through Iran during the revolution and hanging out in Afghanistan not long before the Soviet invasion — but the first time I experienced culture shock was when I came to America. Maybe it was because it was not an unambiguously foreign country — there are so many details of American daily life that the non-American has already been exposed to through film and television. And maybe it was because of the language barrier — the English and Americans being two peoples divided by a common language.

    Just like any other country, there is a limited amount you can know about America without living here. And then, given the country’s size and diversity, along with the things that are generically America there is plenty of regional uniqueness.

    Having lived here for 25 years, I claim a right to have a critical perspective, but to someone who has only visited this country once, 45 years ago, I’d say: don’t confuse the actions of the government and its foreign policies with the country and its people.

    As I’ve often said, the greatest deficit I see among Americans is in having a lack of curiosity about the rest of the world. But that’s not meant to imply that there is nothing to appreciate here.

  3. Christopher Hoare

    Perhaps there is a great deal of congruence between the numbers. 24% of the people in the world see the US as the greatest danger the world faces, while 20% of Americans think it is Iran (That they have never visited and cannot find on a map). Given that belief is a matter of personal choice one has to think there is something astray in a culture with so little respect for rationality.
    Like you, Paul, I came to North America from Britain, 46 years ago, after working with American companies in the N. African oilpatch. I moved to Canada from preference and still live here, less than an hour’s drive from the Montana border. I also was in oil exploration for most of my working life so while I too have met some wonderful Americans I have also known more than my share of dangerous rednecks. I firmly believe that the whole world needs the next US president to do something about the rationality deficit in his or her country.

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