June 12, 2006
Goodbye Cowboys: World Opinion Favors UN Power or Balanced Regional Power
The majority of people in nine major nations, Brazil, China,
France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Russia and the United
States, do not believe that
a world system dominated by a single world power is the best
framework for ensuring peace and stability in the world. Instead they
favor multipolar systems, either led by the United Nations or by a
balance of regional leaders. They also disfavor a bipolar system where
power wasdivided between two world powers.
World Public Opinion reports:
Despite their status as the world’s sole super power today, Americans also rejected the model of a world order based on a single world power. Nor did they want to return to a world dominated by two great powers. Instead, they indicated that they would prefer an international system where power was shared among nations. A majority (52%) thought a balance of regional powers was the best framework but a third (33%) said they would like the UN to lead the world. Only ten percent favored either a system led by a single power (6%) or two powers (4%).
These results are consistent with other polls showing that Americans are uncomfortable with their country’s role as the world’s supreme power. A 2004 poll commissioned by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and conducted by Knowledge Networks found that 80 percent of Americans agreed the United States was “playing the role of world policeman more than it should be.” Asked to choose the statement closest to their own position, only eight percent said that the United States should “continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems;” 78 percent said instead that the United States should “do its share in efforts to solve international problems together with other countries.”
Among the other eight nations, most also favored some system where power was shared among several nations. The Germans (68%) and the Chinese (51%) were the most enthusiastic about UN leadership. Pluralities also favored the UN in Great Britain (47%) and France (46%) while they supported a balance of regional powers in Brazil (45%) and India (37%). The Russians and the Japanese were more closely divided, with about a third in each country choosing the UN and a third picking a balance of regional powers. But a quarter of the Russians said they preferred a world system dominated by one or two superpowers. And more than a third of the Japanese either did not know which system to pick or choose not to answer the question.
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