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GREATEST THREAT TO PEACE
February 8, 2003 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Which country poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003? Isn't Time Magazine typically read by real conservative types? I took the informal survey, with about 348,000 other respondents and was surprised by the percentages.
posted by giantkicks (48 comments total)

 
You realize that this poll is aimed at Europeans and not Americans right? Presumably the same poll given to Americans would show rather different results.
posted by boltman at 10:38 AM on February 8, 2003


I think the ballot might of been stuffed. That and it's Time Europe, not Time USA.
posted by jmauro at 10:39 AM on February 8, 2003


Sort of discussed here already. Not really, though.
posted by jonson at 10:49 AM on February 8, 2003


NOTE: This is an unscientific, informal survey for the interest and enjoyment of TIME.com users and may not be indicative of popular opinion.

Anyone remember when Wil Wheaton won entertainer of the year?
posted by phatboy at 10:51 AM on February 8, 2003


Any evidence for the assertion that Time is typically read by conservatives?
posted by gyc at 10:57 AM on February 8, 2003


I say all, to their self.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2003


I always put Time in the liberal corner, as compared to US News & World Report. Is the latter still published? Or, have I seriously dated myself?
posted by mischief at 11:05 AM on February 8, 2003


It depends what you mean by world peace. Actually, there's nothing you can mean by world peace. It's a meaningless term. The only real peace is nuclear holocaust, but the people who wage war to prevent it are called peacekeepers.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:07 AM on February 8, 2003


You realize that this poll is aimed at Europeans and not Americans right? Presumably the same poll given to Americans would show rather different results.

Perhaps the results would be different, but how? I'm assuming that you feel the percentage would be much lower for the U.S. and much higher for Iraq and N. Korea, but would they equal out?

Furthermore, wouldn't Americans be somewhat biased? It's likely that Americans would vote for the other two countries but that doesn't mean that this unscientific poll is any less right (or wrong) than if it's mostly Europeans who did the voting.

Either way, it takes at least two to fight, for the right reasons or the wrong, so in that respect it's a pointless poll.
posted by ashbury at 11:08 AM on February 8, 2003


Internet polls pose the greatest danger to political science in 2003.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:38 AM on February 8, 2003


Dumb Europeans thinking America is a threat to world peace. How absolutely ridiculous!

Personally, though, I have to applaud their simple minded bravery to believe and express such a patently absurd notion. I mean, if this sort of sentiment were to become widespread, it might become necessary for us to bomb the crap out of Europe just to prove we mean business... about world peace.
posted by Swifty at 12:03 PM on February 8, 2003


I have to agree with PrinceValium - Internet polls are the least scientific and legitimate of devices for public opinion.
posted by tgrundke at 12:06 PM on February 8, 2003


gyc: Any evidence for the assertion that Time is typically read by conservatives?

You mean besides my father?

I need to confess. It's my fault. I've been going there daily and selecting the United States.

P_G? You... I mean... er... aw, forget about it.
posted by Dick Paris at 12:07 PM on February 8, 2003


Perhaps the results would be different, but how?

Well, If I had to guess, I'd say in a scientific poll, it would probably be something like 10 percent of Americans identifiying their own country as the biggest threat to world peace. Maybe more since the poll is seems designed to prompt a response of "United States." If they added more countries (Pakastan, India, China and Israel jump to mind) I'm sure the percentage would drop even more.

Furthermore, wouldn't Americans be somewhat biased?
Obviously. My point was that this poll would only be shocking if it reflected American opinion. Since it reflects European opinion, it's not particularly interesting.
posted by boltman at 12:09 PM on February 8, 2003


By my logic, it HAS to be the USA. Sure, North Korea and Iraq have a higher probability of starting regional conflicts in 2003, but only the USA has the ability to have a truly World-wide conflict. Thus, the answer is C.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:18 PM on February 8, 2003


boltman: My point was that this poll would only be shocking if it reflected American opinion. Since it reflects European opinion, it's not particularly interesting.

So, basically, as long as American's don't think they're a threat to world peace, it doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks? Gotcha.
posted by Swifty at 12:18 PM on February 8, 2003


I stated that it was an "informal survey," and I did not state that it was Time USA. As to European opinion being not particularly interesting, let me state that I am Canadian and therefore my opinion is also not particularly interesting.
posted by giantkicks at 12:19 PM on February 8, 2003


The Bush Administration may have few good options with regard to Pakistan, given the country's role in the war on terror. Within two weeks of September 11th, Bush lifted the sanctions that had been imposed on Pakistan because of its nuclear-weapons activities. In the view of American disarmament experts, the sanctions had in any case failed to deal with one troubling issue: the close ties between some scientists working for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and radical Islamic groups. "There is an awful lot of Al Qaeda sympathy within Pakistan's nuclear program," an intelligence official told me. One American nonproliferation expert said, "Right now, the most dangerous country in the world is Pakistan. If we're incinerated next week, it'll be because of H.E.U."—highly enriched uranium—"that was given to Al Qaeda by Pakistan."
posted by homunculus at 12:19 PM on February 8, 2003


Since it reflects European opinion, it's not particularly interesting.

Why not? European opinions are worthless? Only American opinions count in this matter? What? I find it of very particular interest that those outside of the U.S. worry about America being a danger to world peace.

Your statement comes across as more than a little arrogant.
posted by ashbury at 12:28 PM on February 8, 2003


I have to disagree with most of these posters...I thought this was interesting. I guessed Europeans would agree with this American that the U.S. poses the greatest threat to world peace (of the three countries mentioned), though not by that incredible margin.

Also, I agree with others here that Pakistan should probably be number one on the Most Dangerous list.
posted by kozad at 12:32 PM on February 8, 2003


Isn't Time Magazine typically read by real conservative types?

Conservatives read? (please forgive me - I couldn't resist)

Time is a doctor/dentist office magazine... I don't know anyone (and I know tons of intellectual news savvy types) who rely on time magazine for anything at all... who subscribes to this rag? No one I know.

When was the last time you met someone who said they, "read Time magazine" ???? Anyone? I mean - don't get me wrong - as a white, non-conformist, 27 year old I'm insanely interested in politics, news, innuendo, etc -- I've just found that Time magazine is the MSNBC of news rags, that's all.

[As a side note MeFi's spell checker wants to correct "MSNBC" with the word "snob"]
posted by wfrgms at 12:42 PM on February 8, 2003


Whoa there! My point wasn't that European opinion is not important (it is). Rather, my point was that everyone already knows that Europeans are overwhelmingly opposed to war with Iraq. This link is about as interesting as a poll taken in the U.S. finding that 60 percent of Americans are in favor of war.
posted by boltman at 12:47 PM on February 8, 2003


Fair enough. Thanks for clarifying, boltman.
posted by ashbury at 12:51 PM on February 8, 2003


Excuse me ... hate to be a bother, what with the logic displayed here and all, but it seems to me that this question boils down to a few simple observations. If we assume there is peace in the world right now, and if we assume that what threatens that peace is one nation attacking another, as apposed to one nation sparking a world war perhaps, or a nation mobilizing in defense of its borders, then we can simply look at the facts:

What nation is currently massing forces as a prelude to attack?

What national leader has set a deadline of weeks before an attack is made?

What nation has publically endorsed the idea of a unilateral attack, regardless of national agreement or mandate from the world security body (The UNSC)?

I don't think the European response is all that out of line, given the phrasing of the poll, and the assumptions that one can make about it.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:09 PM on February 8, 2003


My choice, Saudi Arabia, isn't listed.

Nor Isreal, nor the PLO.
posted by goethean at 1:19 PM on February 8, 2003


to summarize the last few days of mefi thoughts:
-Since the opinions come from Europeans, they are not very interesting.
-Since the opinions come from celebrities, they are not very interesting.
-Since the opinions come from liberals, they are not very interesting.
-Since the opinions run counter to the current US administrations ideology in any way, they are not very interesting.

Only the opinions that agree with the administration's policy of preemptive/unprovoked war are interesting.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2003


To further the point, and scare myself a little much more than I want too:

What nation has already invaded another within the last several years, with public plans to invade more?

What nation has made agreements with other nations listed here (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel) for support of its invasion of another nation?

For what its worth, I supported and still support the invasion of Afganistan and removal of the Taliban regime. But the answers to these questions paints a pretty clear picture about the results of this "poll".
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:51 PM on February 8, 2003


To backup PrinceValium and tgrundke, Blogs with karma rankings actually have tighter regulations than this poll. It doesn't log your IP address or even set a cookie to say you've already voted.
posted by Gary at 2:07 PM on February 8, 2003


Hell, I spent two hours yesterday just clicking on US. I wanted to see if someone would post it to MetaFilter.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:56 PM on February 8, 2003


(now my waste of time is your waste of time)
posted by eyeballkid at 2:59 PM on February 8, 2003


"Real conservative types" don't actually read anything.
posted by scarabic at 2:59 PM on February 8, 2003


Everyone knows how absurd anti-US rhetoric can get in Europe, but the merit of getting excited about a Time internet poll was negated a couple of years back by their shocking disqualification of Ronnie O'Brien from their "Man Of The Century" poll (He was almost leading at the time, thanks to the heroic efforts of my countryfolk) on the grounds he wasn't "great" enough. Talk about a poor definition of the word "great"...
posted by Celery at 3:17 PM on February 8, 2003


Kind of a peculiar, extremely loaded question. Of course the US is the greatest "threat", because its the one actually dealing with Iraq and North Korea. It is threatening to invade Iraq if Iraq does not disarm. If it does invade Iraq, it will technically starting a war - so naturally in 2003 the greatest threat to "peace" is the US.

However, the principle reason why Iraq is not a "threat to world peace" right now is precisely because the US is forcing the issue. Iraq completely blew off the UN, year by year, during the 90's as it became more and more apparent he could do so with no ramifications. The inspectors were finally kicked out in 98. Does anyone actually believe that Hussain abandoned the development of chemical, biological, and nuclear weaponry? That he was just sitting around quietly content to be dictator of his own country, but had no designs to develop WMD?

The reason that the US is the "greatest threat" in 2003 is the same reason why Iraq and North Korea won't be in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Hussain understands only force. Why are inspectors back in? Because the UN passed a resolution? Hell no. The threat of force - nothing else worked. Why is Blix in there today - pushing successfully for complete access, and flyovers, and private interviews with scientists (which he was supposed to give immediately, but still didn't)? The increased threat of US force.

I wonder what the answer would be if the question were framed this way:

If the US stops all preparations for war, withdraws completely, and let's Asia deal with North Korea alone, and Europe and the Middle East deal with Saddam alone ... who then would be the "greatest threat to world peace"?
posted by MidasMulligan at 3:47 PM on February 8, 2003


However, the principle reason why Iraq is not a "threat to world peace" right now is precisely because the US is forcing the issue.

MidasM, I still think this relies on an assumption. If the US were not pushing the issue, would Iraq be a threat to World peace? It would be fair to say that Pakistan and India, having come right to the brink of war, are better candidates. There is much more proof that the Saudis are engaged in threats of terror funding, and the only dictators currently in possession of nuclear weapons are Musharef and KIM Chong (Jong) Il. Before the US government pushed the issue, where was the threat from Saddam? That he was defying the UN? So is Israel. That he was trying to gather WMDs? So are many other nations. Why is Iraq that much more likely to use what would get them completely obliterated, and start a war it couldn't win? I'm far more interested in the answer to that question than any of the mundane ones that Powell answered so recently.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:59 PM on February 8, 2003


Midas has a point, but I'd rephrase it this way:

If the US stops all preparations for war and instead works as a collation partner with its European and Asian partners to achieve a diplomatic solution, what nation would be the greatest threat to world peace?

On preview: What Wulfgar! said.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:04 PM on February 8, 2003


I don't think anyone who thought about it would be surprised by the results (84% USA, when I did it), regardless of their own opinion.

The USA is the major threat to world peace because 'threat to world peace' is definable in terms of 'military power' and 'tendency to interfere in foreign affairs'. If the USA were ruled by, say, a sensible and decent leader whose intentions were honorable and just, it would be a greater threat to world peace, because such a leader would interfere with the workings of horrible nations that don't have oil under them. The only ways for the USA to be less of a threat to world peace are to pursue a course of isolationism or to reduce its military power.

It is not an evil thing to be a threat to world peace. It's simply a consequence of power. How power is used is where a good or evil distinction can be drawn.

On preview: MidasMulligan, under the circumstances you describe, the USA remains the greatest threat to world peace. Now, if the Yellowstone supervolcano blew up, the US economy collapsed, the entire Bush Administration hung or shot themselves in a fit of conscience and the remaining bits of the USA went into civil disorder, then I think the answer to your question is China, the second-greatest military power.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:05 PM on February 8, 2003


I wasn't surprised at all.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:09 PM on February 8, 2003


Now, if the Yellowstone supervolcano blew up,

If that happens, it would be an extinction level event, and there wouldn't be many of us left to worry about it.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:13 PM on February 8, 2003


It would be fair to say that Pakistan and India, having come right to the brink of war, are better candidates.

Actually, I might agree with this. That's part of the "loaded" nature of the question. They weren't options. Neither was China. Nor some of the African states to which Al Qaeda may be moving. Nor some of the remnants of the of the old Soviet regime that still have a good number of nuclear weapons with few controls on them.

No, the question merely asked Europeans about the threat in 2003, and only permitted three choices. Word about the poll certainly spread through discussion boards, and likely proved immensely pleasing to those whose job it is to boost site visits to Time's European website ... but it's hardly indicative of the truth about anything ... about either the most realistic source of threats, or even about world opinion.
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:04 PM on February 8, 2003


I know I'm a little late to the party, but why is this FPP here? Maybe in 1998 an Internet poll with wildly "surprising" results would be novel. Not anymore.

Don't believe me? Eyeballkid proved my point for me.
posted by turbodog at 6:40 PM on February 8, 2003


Duh. My link was supposed to point to the post, not the user page.
posted by turbodog at 6:53 PM on February 8, 2003


For what it's worth, there was a similar 'informal poll' with similar results on CNN International about a month ago, which I noted in passing here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:32 PM on February 8, 2003


d: cowboy neal
posted by quonsar at 9:25 PM on February 8, 2003


I'm surprised at the death of "populism" as a viable political category in America, considering that that lernean hydra of the political world - the media - is most accurately characterised by it. Time Magazine gets by by selling a popular view, not a properly ideological or philosophical view of how things are. If being pro-abortion sells papers, then they're pro-abortion. If being anti-abortion does, then they're anti-abortion.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:34 PM on February 8, 2003


Well, for some reason my country in Nationstates is not on the poll. If it were, then The Empire of Chaosium would no doubt be the front runner. Never has an entire nation been as evil as Chaosium. Hail the Emperor! Give us your oil !
posted by a3matrix at 9:50 PM on February 8, 2003


MidasMulligan -

' Does anyone actually believe that Hussain abandoned the development of chemical, biological, and nuclear weaponry? That he was just sitting around quietly content to be dictator of his own country, but had no designs to develop WMD?'

As it was made obvious to him last time he invaded a country (not using WMD, you may note), that kind of behaviour is stamped on. Unless you do it with the covert backing of the US/UN (see Iraq/Iran war).
That would lead me to conclude that any WMD that Saddam Husein has (or other factions of the various para-military organisations in Iraq) would only be used in a desperate 'suicide bombing'. That would be the result of Iraq being pushed into situation where they the leaders of the various militia (incl. Hussein) felt that they could not win/would be massacred soon. They would know that any use of WMD would give the US the excuse it needs to match suit, signing the death certificate for much of the population of Iraq, but would want to stick two fingers up out of the rubble at the West, so to speak. Whether or not they could hit any Americans with their death throw (sorry, about the pun) is debateable, and made alot more likely with the build up of military staff in the region.
Bearing in mind that Iraq has been under constant bombardment and stringent sanctions for the past 12 years, during which time WMD have not been used against it's foes, I ask the question, what would push them over the edge?
So whether or not WMD have been stored by Iraq, they haven't used them, or threatened to use them (unlike North Korea, who threaten an undefined pre-emptive strike if there is build up of US military in their area). Which shows a remarkable amount of restraint on the part of the 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' Iraquis, IMHO.
'Regime change' in the Gulf (/anywhere) has never gone in favour of the West over the long term, what is different about this latest attempt?
posted by asok at 4:01 AM on February 9, 2003


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posted by the fire you left me at 8:35 AM on February 9, 2003


"achievements: (1) The overthrow of the Taliban; (2) . . . any suggestions for 2? "


other than the biggest expansion of federal government in history? and turning world sentiment from decidedly for the US... to decidedly against...in 16 months?

anyone?
posted by specialk420 at 11:02 PM on February 10, 2003


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