Threats to Global Security

A recent study from Pew Research Center revealed that the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and climate change are viewed as the largest global security threats, according to citizens of the 38 countries surveyed. The participating countries were offered eight different threats, including cyberattacks, refugees leaving Iraq and Syria, the condition of the global economy, and the power and influence of countries such as China, Russia, and the United States. ISIS, with 62% of citizens identifying it as a major threat, and climate change, with 61%, were the two most commonly cited security concerns.

The top national security concern varied by country, although some continental regions had similar views regarding this issue. The 18 countries that named ISIS as their number one threat are mostly concentrated in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Other major countries primarily concerned with ISIS include the United States and Australia. Of the 13 countries that named climate change as their top threat, the majority lie in South America, with a handful of others in Africa (although there were few countries on the continent who participated in the survey). Most of North America also cited climate change as their top threat, with the notable exception of the United States.

The differences in perspective about national security threats can likely be attributed to regional circumstances. Europe and the Middle East, for example, are more concerned about ISIS because many of their countries have laid witness to fatal terrorist attacks on their soil. Countries who did not name ISIS or climate change as their top threat seem to have a more specific national concern influencing their choice. For instance, according to this survey 98% of Greek citizens feel their national economic situation is poor, and consequently Greece cited the condition of the global economy as their top threat.

Kaitlyn Bieniek


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