It is clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the world leader that Norwegians fear most. Evidenced by a survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Dagbladet.
Confronting each other, Norwegians fear Putin much more than together they fear Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and US President Joe Biden.
As many as 80 percent of those surveyed said Putin represented the biggest threat to world peace, compared to 38 percent in 2021.
The cause is as natural as it is brutal, according to experts: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Pointing to the United States
Then the experts separate the teams.
Russian expert Iver Neumann, director of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI), believes that Vladimir Putin’s Russia currently poses the greatest threat to world peace.
I put Putin first because we know he’s ready to go to war. He has done this many times before, in Georgia, Chechnya and Ukraine three times. We know this is part of his natural stock in international politics, Neumann tells Dagbladet.
NTNU Professor Jo Jakobsen, an expert on international politics, has a very different view of the matter.
A few years ago, I remember that SV caused a little scandal when the United States was the biggest threat to world peace in its party platform. They are really right. What the United States does and does not do is far more important to this question than most other countries. This is why Joe Biden and the United States pose the greatest threat to world peace, but the threat does not depend on the person, says Jacobsen.
The United States holds the key
Jacobsen is neither a left radical nor particularly negative toward the United States, but he has no doubts when he asks Dagbladet. He even thinks he “might get skinny because of this,” but he says it anyway.
I have nothing against the United States, but the point is that the United States controls a large part of the power in the world. Then it’s so frank that they have the biggest role to play. The NTNU professor, who has previously received awards for his research, says this has nothing to do with whether the United States is good or evil, but simply that it is too powerful.
Jacobsen believes that the United States being the most powerful also means that it has the greatest potential to pose a threat.
He uses the US conflict with China over the South China Sea and Taiwan as examples when he explains how the US and Joe Biden can pose a greater threat than, say, Putin and Xi.
If the United States goes too far and takes action that China considers aggressive, or vice versa, the two could end up in a negative spiral. This balancing process is very demanding, but as a rule, it is the United States that holds this key, says the NTNU professor.
These are the examples
He denies that he is concerned that the United States will or will intentionally do anything to destroy world peace.
The point is that what the United States does and does not do is of great importance to many in the world. When the United States sends thousands of troops into Europe and Asia, that’s military action, but it’s meant to be a deterrent. The underlying problem, says Jacobsen, is always this spiral dynamic.
Again he comes up with a new example.
Had the United States, under the Trump administration, actually withdrawn completely from Europe and Asia, it would have opened up a lot of space for regional actors such as Russia and China. In practice, such an action would have threatened world peace more than other things, but this does not necessarily mean that the United States would be morally responsible for the threat to world peace, says the professor.
something number two
However, he understands very well why most Norwegians think Putin is the biggest threat, and describes it as normal, given the situation in Ukraine.
At the same time, a large part of the international power relations, stability and instability in the coming years will depend on the United States and China. The long-term strategic game will take place between the United States and China, and as long as Xi Jinping rules him, he will also join this list, says the professor.
And again, experts agree, because even FNI Director Neumann believes that Xi Jinping ranks second in the list of threats.
It is increasingly aggressive towards Taiwan, first of all, and other countries surrounding the South China Sea and the Sea of Japan. There are increasingly powerful and more aggressive messages coming from China, and the consequences of this could be even greater.
In 2021, Dagbladet asked the same question through Ipsos. Although Vladimir Putin topped the poll at the time, the picture was much more accurate.
38% believe that Putin is the biggest threat to world peace. One in four (25 percent) thought China’s Xi Jinping was the biggest threat, while 20 percent answered Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
This year, only 7 percent think Xi is the biggest threat, and only 4 percent think the biggest threat is Kim.
Last year, 4 percent of Norwegians believed US President Joe Biden was the world leader who posed the greatest threat to world peace. This year, the figure is 3 percent.
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