Germans, Americans Support NATO, Worry About the Same Threats

From the moment Donald Trump took up residence at the White House, a multitude of surveys have shown how public opinion around the world sees diminished American leadership fueled by a deeply unpopular president.

Germany offers a vivid example of those public sentiments. Immediately after Trump took office, polling in the country showed only 15 percent of Germans believe Trump was competent to serve as president, and 87 percent said they believed he would not be good for their country. Furthermore, as recently as last November, surveys showed Germans and Americans had very different views about the health of their countries’ partnership.

[MORE: U.S. Falls in Trustworthy Countries Ranking Under Trump]

Those contrasting views are reinforced yet again by new research published on Monday, but what may surprise Americans and Germans is to learn how much they agree with each other. Despite Trump’s questioning of the value of NATO, a sharp majority of Americans agree with Germans in their support of the alliance. And in spite of the American president’s skepticism about climate change, Americans join German survey respondents in seeing global warming as one of the top global security threats.

Additionally, citizens in both countries share very similar views on the value of trade and the need to cooperate with other nations, while reporting mixed views on China and Russia. Those are the findings from separate surveys conducted last year in the U.S. by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and in Germany by the Korber Foundation.

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Among the studies’ major findings:

— Both Americans and Germans name cyberattacks, the militant group known as ISIS and climate change as the world’s top three international threats. Americans are most concerned about cyberattacks from other countries, while Germans are more likely to name climate change as the top threat facing their country.

— On NATO, 64 percent of U.S. respondents and 63 percent of Germans reported having favorable views of the alliance.

— Americans and Germans both say they want more cooperation with the U.K., France and China. However, only 35 percent of Americans want greater cooperation with Russia; in Germany that desire jumps to 69 percent.

— Additionally, 38 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Germans said they have favorable views of China, while 21 percent of Americans and 35 percent of Germans said the same about Russia.

— Since 2013 there has been a steady decline in both countries of people saying the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of Americans. Revelations of the U.S. National Security Agency conducting eavesdropping on its citizens has pushed the downward trend.

Americans and Germans disagree on which country is the leading economic power. Forty-nine percent of Americans say the U.S. is the leading economic power, while 53 percent of Germans name China as the world’s leading economic power.

One troubling area of agreement: Americans and Germans share in the pessimism they have for the futures of their children. Only 37 percent of Germans said that children today will be better off than their parents. Among Americans, only 33 percent of adults said their children will be better off.

[MORE: Countries Viewed as the Best for Raising Children]

Pew conducted its survey among 1,006 U.S. adults in September of 2018, while Korber interviewed 1,002 Germans in the same month. The findings also draw on data from the Spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey in both countries and conducted among 2,501 adults from May 14 to June 30 of 2018.

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