Half the World Views the U.S. as a “Global Threat” 

Orhan Cam / shutterstock.com
Orhan Cam / shutterstock.com

The United States, once a glowing beacon in the world, is now viewed by half the world as a “global threat,” per the 2023 Best Countries survey. 

The Best Countries rankings and analysis, conducted by U.S. News, is a collaboration between U.S. News, global marketing communications firm WPP, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. This comprehensive project is built upon a global survey that engaged more than 17,000 individuals across 36 nations.

Respondents were asked to associate various attributes with different countries, spanning a wide spectrum from descriptors like “dynamic,” “safe,” and “a leader” to qualities such as “cares about human rights,” “economically stable,” and “committed to social justice.” This year’s survey encompassed a total of 73 attributes and included 87 countries in its evaluation. 

In the 2023 U.S. News Best Countries survey, respondents were presented with various statements concerning international policies and priorities. A notable 72% of those surveyed expressed agreement, to varying degrees, with the assertion that “Russia poses a threat to the world.” Similarly, 66% of respondents concurred with a similar statement regarding China, while 50% of those surveyed shared the sentiment that the United States could be considered a global threat. 

It’s not surprising that those elsewhere in the world consider the U.S. a threat. America can’t seem to keep its fingers out of everyone else’s pies. 

Front and center of the global threat landscape, foreign policy decisions and actions taken by the U.S., including military interventions in other countries and the implementation of economic sanctions, are seen by some as aggressive and destabilizing, potentially posing a threat to global peace and stability.  

Additionally, the United States’ position as the world’s largest economy and its economic policies and trade practices can be interpreted as exerting significant power and influence, which may be perceived as disadvantageous by other nations.  

The formidable military presence maintained by the U.S. worldwide can also contribute to the perception of the country as a potential threat to sovereignty or regional stability, particularly in regions where there is a history of U.S. military involvement. 

Competing geopolitical interests, such as territorial disputes, alliances, or resource allocation, can result in rivalries and tensions, further fueling the perception of the U.S. as a threat. 

Issues related to security and intelligence activities, exemplified by revelations about U.S. mass surveillance programs, have raised concerns about privacy and national sovereignty in other countries.  

Lastly, disagreements over environmental policies, especially in the context of global efforts to combat climate change, can strain relations. 

It’s not unusual for countries across the globe to feel threatened by the United States, but historically there has been an effective leader in charge, even if he wasn’t popular. America has, under Biden, become an unreliable ally, as proven by its treatment of Afghanistan and the emerging unholy alliances between Russia, China, Cuba, and Iran. 

The shifting dynamics on the international stage suggest that the U.S. may need to reevaluate its foreign policy approach to regain trust and improve its global standing. 

Interestingly, the United States also slipped one spot to number five in the 2023 overall Best Countries list, indicating potential challenges in maintaining its positive international image. Switzerland, for the second consecutive year, secured the top position, with Canada, Sweden, and Australia closely following.  

The Best Countries rankings employ a comprehensive set of criteria. Firstly, the “Quality of Life” category assesses factors such as safety, affordability, job opportunities, income equality, political stability, and family-friendly policies in each country.  

Secondly, the “Open for Business” category examines the ease of doing business, considering economic stability, innovation, entrepreneurship, and the tax environment.  

Next, the “Citizenship” category considers human rights, gender equality, social justice, and the overall well-being of a country’s citizens.  

The “Adventure” category evaluates a nation’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and appeal as a travel destination. The “Movers” category assesses dynamic qualities, including economic potential, entrepreneurial spirit, and innovation.  

“Power” measures a country’s global influence, including military strength, political alliances, and international partnerships.  

“Cultural Influence” examines a nation’s cultural contributions to the world, including cultural heritage, entertainment, and culinary influences. And lastly, the “Heritage” category looks at a country’s historical significance, cultural traditions, and efforts in preserving historical sites. 

It’s easy to look at the current administration’s actions over the past several years and see how they have chipped away at each category Best Countries use to rank countries across the globe. With Biden at the helm, even Americans are increasingly viewing their own government as a potential threat.