Foreigners Are Crazy

Pew did a poll in 38 countries asking about various dangers and threats.

The United States came in 26th place in the percentage of its people who view climate change as a major threat. What can all those people in 25 countries who believe that rendering the planet’s climate uninhabitable is a major threat to their country be thinking? Russia, by the way, came in dead last, 38th place, a far more serious and well-documented criticism of Russia than any I’ve heard (and there have been a few lately).

Pew didn’t bother to ask whether anyone would mind nuclear apocalypse, so we can only assume that even ignorant foreigners are totally cool with global destruction if it’s accomplished by warfare. Surely if anybody were worried about it, Pew would have asked them.

China was left out of the poll. So were all seven of the countries that the U.S. has bombed most heavily in recent years: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. Two of the three nations that the United States recently sanctioned and threatened (North Korea and Iran) were left out, while Russia was included. All of the nuclear-armed nations other than China and Pakistan were included. All of the big weapons dealers except China were included.

And yet the danger posed by certain military powers came through.

In Turkey, the United States is seen as by far the biggest threat with 72% of people calling it a major threat. This seems rather unfair if not strictly insane, given the generous efforts of the U.S. in starting seven wars in Turkey’s region of the globe, not to mention all of the U.S. aid in the destruction of Palestine, and the stability that has been brought by the overthrows in Iraq and Libya and by the creation of drone wars.

In South Korea, 70% of the people call the U.S. a major threat. This is certifiably nuts, given that the United States has gone to great lengths to antagonize North Korea and militarize South Korea in preparation for a catastrophic continuation of a war that the U.S. has not allowed to end for over half a century.

In Japan, 62% say the United States is a major threat, which is simply tragic, given the historical U.S. role in militarizing Japan and then burning Japan to the ground, imposing a peace Constitution that the Japanese people came to make their own, and then demanding re-militarization in violation of the Constitution.

A majority of the people polled view the U.S. as a major threat in Mexico, Spain, Chile, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Tunisia. In 22 countries, more people view the U.S. as a major threat than view Russia or China as a major threat. In 15 either Russia or China was seen as a major threat by more people than the U.S. was. In the United States itself people were apparently not permitted to say they viewed the U.S. as a threat — or too few said so to be recorded.

These findings fit with the Gallup poll of 65 countries three-and-a-half years ago that found the U.S. far and away the winner on the question of what country is the greatest threat to peace.

In the new Pew poll, the U.S. ranks 9th in viewing ISIS as a major threat. Twenty-seven countries are apparently full of people unable to grasp how a small terrorist group in a far corner of the world is as grave a danger to them as they should believe. But in all but 8 countries a majority does view ISIS as a major threat, an impressive propaganda accomplishment indeed.

More serious dangers than ISIS not asked about by Pew include: cigarettes, stairs, bath tubs, automobiles, toddlers who find guns, poor diet, lack of exercise, unsafe workplaces, and various forms of environmental pollution.

The U.S. also ranks third in calling cyber attacks a major threat. Why can’t the rest of the world grasp the significance of a threat just because it doesn’t bomb them or destroy their ecosystems? What is the matter with people?


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

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