Supporters of the climate action movement Fridays for Future, one of whom holds a sign showing Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images
China and Russia are seen as less of a threat to Western populations than a year ago, as public concern shifts to non-traditional risks such as mass migration and radical Islam, according to a new report. study.
Public perception of traditional security risks remains higher today than three years ago, but has declined since 2022, the year of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to survey results from the Munich Safety Index 2024.
The findings highlight a disconnect between public opinion and political policy as world leaders gather later this week at the Munich Security Conference to discuss what organizers call a “downward trend.” of global politics, marked by increasing geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty.
The main priorities will be the ongoing wars between Russia and Ukraine, between Israel and Hamas, as well as the expansion of NATO and a possible return of Donald Trump to the White House.
Public opinion, however, was largely aligned on medium-term economic and geopolitical risks, with the majority of respondents in Western countries believing that China and other Southern powers would become more powerful over the next decade. coming, while Western powers would be more likely to become more powerful over the coming decade. stagnate or decline.
In a poll of 12,000 people in the G7 countries, plus Brazil, India, China and South Africa, few Western respondents thought their country would be safer and richer in 10 years. In contrast, most people in emerging economies believed they would be better off financially and politically.
While Russia ranked as one of the top threats to G7 countries last year, the majority of perceived risks have since subsided, according to the study conducted from October to November 2023.
Only citizens of the United Kingdom and Japan still see Moscow as a major risk this year, while Germany and Italy recorded a significant decrease in their concerns. This included reducing concerns about the risks of nuclear conflict and disruptions to energy supplies.
China was also viewed more favorably this year than last year by five of the G7 countries, except Canada and Japan. It is worth noting, however, that Chinese respondents view all countries except Russia and Belarus as more threatening today than before. It is also the only country to designate the United States as a threat.
However, the perception of non-traditional risks has increased in all countries, with people around the world expressing concern about environmental threats, risks of mass migration resulting from wars or climate change and organized crime. Environmental issues ranked among the top three concerns in every country except the United States
The perceived threat of radical Islam also showed a marked increase, although the report’s authors noted that this sentiment was primarily concentrated in Europe and North America and was likely a consequence of the war between Israel and Hamas.
Cybersecurity concerns, meanwhile, pose one of the biggest risks in China and the United States, as both countries tighten restrictions against each other in the race for technological dominance.
The clue was accompanied by a report titled “Lose-Lose? ”, which highlighted the continued abandonment of global cooperation in favor of transactional and protectionist policies.
“As more and more states define their success relative to others, a vicious cycle of thinking focused on relative gains, prosperity losses and growing geopolitical tensions threatens to unfold. The lose-lose dynamic that results is already spreading across many policy areas and engulfing various regions,” the report says.
He adds that this year’s super electoral cycle could further exacerbate the risks of “democratic backsliding, growing societal polarization and the rise of right-wing populism”, which would further destabilize international cooperation.
“Populist forces have further amplified the sense that some actors gain at the expense of others, as an extreme form of liberalism ‘exacerbates who wins and who loses in economic globalization,'” he adds.
The report suggests that Trump’s re-election as US president could potentially “sound the death knell for trustful cooperation among democratic states.” Indeed, on Saturday, the Republican presidential candidate said he would “encourage” Russia to attack NATO allies if they failed to meet their spending commitments.
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