This nineth wave of Ipsos’s annual Global Poll for the Halifax International Security Forum, shows that while it remains the case that a large majority of the worldwide public feel the world has become more dangerous over the past year, there has been a marked decline in concern since 2017. Three quarters (74%) of global citizens polled in 27 countries around the world agree that over the last year the world has become more dangerous, a seven percentage-point reduction from last year’s score. Perceptions of increased danger are highest in Peru (84%) and Mexico (83%) and lowest in China (57%), Japan (64%), and South Korea – in this latter country public feelings of heightened danger have fallen by 21 percentage points since 2017, from 85% to 64%. Canadians (78%) are more likely than Americans (72%) to think the world has become more dangerous in the past year.
While a majority feel that their government should focus less on the world and more at home (73%), the global public are also strongly in favor of continuing engagement with the world: three quarters say their country has a responsibility to be a moral leader and set an example for other countries (74%) and a similar proportion are committed to the principle of multilateralism – that they should work with other countries towards global goals, even if their own country does not get exactly what it wants (75%).
US President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign affairs has received a subdued global assessment – just three in ten agree that his tactics have made the world a safer place. The most positive nations, where close to half agree this is the case, are Israel (52%), India (52%) and China (49%), followed by Poland (47%) and Saudi Arabia, the US and Brazil (all 44%). In all other nations polled at most a third agree that Trump has made the world safer: Turkish and Russian citizens are the least likely to agree (13% and 14% respectively), followed by Germans and Canadians (both 16%).
Ipsos Threat Index 2018: The global perception of threats – and public confidence in governments to respond – declines
The perception that a variety of sources pose a threat to security have eased since last year, but many still believe that there is a real threat of the following happening in the next twelve months.
- Threat of being hacked for fraudulent or espionage purposes (70%, down 4 points; 75% in Canada; 80% in America)
- Threat of a terrorist attack in your country (64%, down 8 points; 64% in Canada; 82% in America)
- Threat of nuclear/chemical attack taking place somewhere in the world (63%, 67% in Canada down 8 points; 70% in America)
- Threat of a major natural disaster in your country (62%, down 1 point; 61% in Canada; 84% in America)
- The personal safety and security of you or your family members being violated (58%, down 5 points; 44% in Canada; 61% in America)
- A violent conflict breaking out between ethnic or minority groups in your country (57%, down 4 points; 54% in Canada; 72% in America)
- A major health epidemic in your country (49%, down 4 points; 46% in Canada; 60% in America)
- Your country entering an armed conflict with another country (48%, down 6 points; 38% in Canada; 71% in America)
With many perceiving these threats to their country to be real, it is noteworthy that many lack confidence that the appropriate levels of security and protection could be provided by their government, or that its agencies could respond effectively to these threats. Overall, confidence is down from last year:
- Threat of being hacked for fraudulent or espionage purposes (44%, down 5 points; 54% in Canada; 51% in America)
- Threat of a terrorist attack in your country (49%, down 3 points; 60% in Canada; 61% in America)
- Threat of nuclear/chemical attack taking place somewhere in the world (42%, down 5 points; 46% in Canada, 51% in America)
- Threat of a major natural disaster in your country (53%, down 3 points; 69% in Canada; 60% in America)
- The personal safety and security of you or your family members being violated (44%, down 5 points; 60% in Canada; 55% in America)
- A violent conflict breaking out between ethnic or minority groups in your country (46%, down 4 points; 57% in Canada; 54% in America)
- A major health epidemic in your country (50%, down 3 points; 63% in Canada; 58% in America)
- Your country entering an armed conflict with another country (47%, down 3 points; 56% in Canada; 62% in America)
The chart below shows the global gap between priority of threat and confidence that governments are prepared to deal with the threat or situation. The biggest gaps relate to data security, chemical/mass warfare, terrorism and personal safety.
Global Citizens Struggle Between Protectionism and Desire to be World Leader
There is a growing belief among some that the solution to the world’s strife is to turn more insular. Three quarters (73%, up 2 points) of global citizens agree (31% strongly/41% somewhat) that, given the difficult economic issues in their country today, their country needs to focus less on the world and more at home. Those in Russia (83%) are most likely to agree, while those in Sweden (59%) are least likely. Canada (72%) and the US (75%) are in the middle, but still firmly on side of agreement.
But focusing more on one’s own country appears to be contradictory to the desires of most to lead on the world stage:
- A majority (74%, up 1 point) agrees that their country has a responsibility to be a moral leader in the world to set an example for other countries to follow, and that their country should work with other countries. Those in Great Britain (86%), Russia (86%), Canada (85%) and the US (85%) are the most likely to agree. Those in Spain (56%) and Japan (57%) are least likely to agree.
- A majority (75%) also agrees that their country should work with other countries towards global goals, even if their country does not always get exactly what they want. This sentiment is led by residents of Malaysia (83%), Peru (82%) Great Britain (81%) and Russia (80%), while those in Japan (56%) and France (62%) are less likely to agree. Canada (75%) and the US (73%) are once again in between.
- Eight in ten (80%) agree that free trade is beneficial for their country’s economy, down 4 points since last year but still a solid majority. This sentiment is highest in Great Britain (92%), and lowest in France (61%). It is very strong in the United States (88%), Canada (87%) and Mexico (87%), the three of which just negotiated the USMCA.
Most Countries, Organizations Seen to have a Positive Influence on the World
Global citizens were asked to assess whether they believe that various countries will have a positive or negative influence on world affairs over the next decade. The chart below outlines the proportion of global citizens who say the impact of each country or organization will be positive. Canada tops the list, while Iran is at the bottom. Notably, assessments of every country and organization are down from last year.
Interestingly, Mexicans (92%) have the most positive assessment of Canada, while Russians (56%) are least likely to believe Canada will have a positive influence over the next decade. Opinions of the United States’ influence are more varied: Israelis have the most positive assessment of the United States’ (84%) impact in the future, while Germans (20%) have the least.
Shrinking Proportion of Global Citizens (37%, -7) See War as Justifiable
Fewer global citizens (37%, down 7 points) believe that, under some conditions, war is necessary to obtain justice. Interestingly, those in the United States (65%), China (63%) and Israel (62%) are most likely to believe this is the case. Nearly half (47%) of Canadians also agree. Those in Hungary (20%), Argentina (20%), Japan (22%), Peru (22%) and Germany (23%) are among the least likely to agree.
In fact, most (73%) agree (23% strongly/51% somewhat) that economic power is more important than military power. Americans are least likely to agree (61%), while those living in India (82%) and Turkey (82%) are most likely to agree. Three quarters (74%) of Canadians also agree.
Global citizens are split in half as to whether, given the dangers in the world, their government needs to spend more money on their country’s military. Half (49%) agree they do, led by those in India (77%) and Poland (71%). A majority (56%) of Americans agree, while 48% of Canadians also agree. Just one in three Japanese (36%), Italians (35%), Chileans (34%) and Spaniards (33%) agree their country needs to spend more on the military.
Most Don’t Believe US President Trump is Making the World Safer
Only three in ten (29%) global citizens believe that US President Donald Trump’s approach to world affairs is making the world a safer place today. Only a majority in Israel (53%) and India (52%) agree that it is, although 49% of Chinese also agree. Four in ten (44%) Americans agree, but only 16% of Canadians agree, placing just ahead of Turkey at 13%. Russians are among the least likely to agree (14%).
Six in ten (59%) global citizens, although down 6 points since last year, expect that in the next 25 years we could see another world conflict involving superpowers similar to the First and Second World Wars. Both Canada and the US are near the top of the list with 68% agreeing, only slightly behind the 69% of Malaysians who agree. Only a minority of those in Japan (32%) and South Korea (44%) agree that there is likely to be another world war in the next 25 years.
Thinking about the newest avenue for warfare – cyber warfare – six in ten (62%) believe that if one country attacks another online, such as hacking into critical infrastructure such as the power grid, it is reasonable to treat it as an act of war. Those in Russia (78%), Israel (77%), India (74%) and Sweden (74%) are most likely to agree, while only a minority in Mexico (46%), Germany (47%), Peru (47%) and Argentina (47%) feel the same way.
Only Four in Ten (43%) Say Countries are Doing Enough on Climate Change
Only a minority (43%) of global citizens say most the world’s countries are doing what is appropriate on climate change, down 7 points since last year – suggesting that the situation is not improving and perhaps worsening. Those in China (82%) are, by far, the most likely to agree, well ahead of residents of India (67%) and Malaysia (67%). Only 44% of Americans and 29% of Canadians feel the same way. On the bottom, just two in ten (20%) Swedes think the world’s countries are doing enough to fight climate change.