Weighing the Global League Study Ranks World Powers
A new study finds the most people around the world see the United States' role as a global power diminishing. Meanwhile, though almost half of Germans see their country as a world player, they also see that role shrinking over time.
G8 leaders at a June summit in Heiligendamm, Germany: Who's got the power?
Do Germans overestimate their power on a global scale? Apparently they do, if the results of a new poll released on Wednesday by the Berlin-based Bertelsmann Stiftung Global Policy Council are to be believed. The country has no permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, only 10,000 troops abroad, and yet nearly half of all Germans -- 49 percent -- currently see their country as a world power.
Forty-six percent of Germans responded that their country would play a leading role in the world. Apparently the only other country that takes Germany as seriously as it takes itself in its global role is Britain -- a position that owes itself to history and Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent performance as the European Union's rotating president and chair of the G8. Worldwide, though, only 30 percent of respondents considered Germany to play a leading role in international politics. When asked if they think Germany will play a leading role in 2020, that figure dropped to 25 percent.
To complete the study, released on Wednesday and entitled "Who Rules the World?", Bertelsmann commissioned pollsters Gallup International and TNS-EMNID to survey 9,000 respondents in the United States, Russia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Germany, France and Britain. According to the survey, Germans believe there will be a shift in the global constellation of power that will be to the advantage of China, India and Brazil and to the disadvantage of the US. It's an assessment that, the survey showed, is shared around the world.
In the view of respondents, the US will be the future's major "loser," according to the study. Today, the US, with an 81 percent ranking, still stands far ahead of China with its 50 percent ranking in the list of global powers. But respondents said America's standing as a world power would fall to 61 percent by 2020. During that time, China is expected to rise to 57 percent, just a few points below the US's ranking.
Compared to the last global power report published by Bertelsmann Stiftung in 2005, Russia saw significant gains in its international standing -- rising from sixth place to third, right after China.
With 33 percent, the European Union landed in fourth place in the survey. The poll found that most EU citizens view themseves as a world power: including 81 percent of Germans and 76 percent of Brits who shared that belief. Outside of Europe, though, that picture looks a bit different: Only 12 percent of Russians believe that the EU plays a global leadership role -- 12 percent fewer than two years ago. The shift is believed to be connected to Russia's newfound self-confidence.
According to respondents, the most important criteria for determing a country's status as a global power, are economic strength, political stability, along with education and research. Indeed, the importance of research has climbed dramatically since the last study -- by 32 percentage points in India, 15 percent in France and 11 percent in Germany, for example.
The Bertelsmann Foundation's head of international relations, Josef Janning, said Wednesday that all over the world "people see the US losing it dominant position and China gaining ground."
"However, they don't expect the kind of harmonious, balanced world order you might expect from a global government run by the United Nations," he said. Instead, in almost every country, people plan to rely on their own strength in global competition and want their countries to play larger roles in spreading peace and stability."