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13 Feb, 2020 20:21

Top security partner... & second biggest threat to world? Germans are increasingly unsure about role of US

Top security partner... & second biggest threat to world? Germans are increasingly unsure about role of US

Most Germans see America, supposedly Berlin’s biggest ally, as one of the biggest threats to world peace, right after Iran. Other nations painted as “bogeymen” by Western media are lagging far behind, a new poll shows.

More than 60 percent of Germans believe that Washington is “the greatest threat to international peace,” the latest Security Report – an annual representative study published by the Allensbach Demoskopie Institute – reveals. That makes the US the second most feared nation in the eyes of Germans after Iran, which is a source of concern for 66 percent of the population.

North Korea, which is often portrayed in the West as a possible threat, is only third on the list as 55 percent of Germans see it this way. 

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Turkey – another of Germany’s NATO allies – has landed in fourth place since it is feared by slightly more than a half of all respondents. It is not exactly clear if such sentiments were caused by bilateral relations between the two nations which grew sour over recent years or Turkey’s increasingly assertive policies in neighboring Syria, where it conducted operations against Kurdish militias and supported militants in Idlib.

Russia and China – the traditional “adversaries” of America and its allies – caused anxiety only among 36 and 34 percent of Germans respectively. The poll results indicate the growing disparity between the official narrative and public sentiment.

Moscow and Berlin do share some economic interests. Germany emerged as one of the top backers of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe that drew the ire of Washington. Still, when it comes to international politics Berlin hardly diverges from the mainstream Western narrative on conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, which tends to portray Russia as a ‘spoiler’ in international politics.

Just a year ago, the US and Russia were considered almost equal threats to Germany’s security.

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The US’ belligerent foreign policy has apparently not sat well with the Germans either. Most of them now see a potential conflict between America and Iran as the biggest threat to their nation’s security. A recent escalation of tensions that almost put the two nations on the brink of war following America’s assassination of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, apparently even overshadowed the threat posed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists in the eyes of Germans.

Now, one in four Germans fear that their nation could be drawn into a new military conflict, up from just 15 percent in 2019.

However, America is still considered Germany’s “most important military ally” since this sentiment is shared by almost 40 percent of respondents. That does not stop Germans from doubting Washington’s worth as a security partner, though. More than a half of them deemed the US unreliable for two years in a row – more than twice as many as the number of those who did believe Washington can be trusted.

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It is not just external threats that worry the Germans, though. Almost 80 percent consider street gangs, which German law enforcement describes as criminal family clans, often of migrant descent, as the biggest security issue. More than two thirds of the respondents also feel that the authorities do not do enough to tackle this problem. Most people also believe that there are “lawless areas” in Germany, which are effectively out of reach of law enforcement authorities.