The US Military Doesn’t Promote Democracy Abroad

May 11th, 2021 - by Juan Cole / Informed Comment

44% of People in World Fear US Will Interfere With Their Democracy, Fearing China or Russia Less

Juan Cole / Informed Comment

(May 9, 2021) — A new Alliance of Democracies Poll conducted around the world with 50,000 people in 53 countries earlier this year finds that 

“Nearly half (44%) of respondents in the 53 countries surveyed are concerned that the US threatens democracy in their country; fear of Chinese influence is 38%, and fear of Russian influence is lowest at 28%.”

In 2020 only 38% said that the US was a negative influence on democracy around the world, whereas 44% saw it as positive. So it appears that in the past year, fear of the US interfering with democracy increased significantly on average. 

Democracy means different things to different people, but the inhabitants of earth are not stupid. Some 64% say that economic inequality is the biggest threat to democracy.

We can see this effect in the United States, where the Republican Party, the party that promotes inequality and serves as bodyguards for the filthy rich, has now become an openly fascist party dedicated to overthrowing the duly elected government of the United States.I suppose people around the world saw what happened on January 6th and concluded that if Americans would do that to themselves, they’d do it even more blithely to other people.

Nearly half of respondents, 48%, see Big Tech as a dire threat to democracy.

Since the US leads in the number of billionaires and is also the headquarters of most Big Tech companies, you can see why people out there are afraid that the United States will have a negative impact on their democracies. Then, we did elect an orange madman who rampaged around the world bullying people for the past four years. That could raise alarms about us.

Some 38% of Swedes are afraid the US will interfere with their democracy they are much less worried about Russia (31%) and China (30%).

Here are the other friendlies who have this fear of America and the percentages:

Australia 48% (but 51% are afraid of China)
Austria 32%
Belgium 34%
Denmark 35%
France 35%
Germany 36%
Greece 52%
Ireland 43%
Italy 37% (same for China)
Japan 54% (China 53%)
Mexico 55%
Norway 38%
Portugal 39%
South Korea 58% (even they are less afraid of China than of the US!)
Spain 35%
Turkey 50%
United Kingdom 44% (so much for the special relationship)

The US has been an actual threat to democracy on many occasions, especially in the Cold War when Washington overthrew left-leaning governments.

Syria 1949, Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Congo 1960 (Eisenhower tried to poison Patrice Lumumba’s toothpaste), Dominican Republic 1965, Chile 1973, etc.

But I don’t think the US allies or friendlies above are worried about a CIA coup. In the Cold War, they tended to think well of the US as a bulwark against Moscow.

Left of center parties in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland may help account for the high levels of anxiety over US interference in those countries.

I think the Bush and Trump administrations have blackened the U.S. reputation as a leader of capitalist democracies (even if it has often been an anti-democratic force where the left was concerned). Countries around the world figured that if Bush could invade Iraq and Afghanistan and intervene kinetically in several others, the US might well come after them, too. Trump took delight in humiliating our NATO allies.

On the other hand, it may be that part of what people mean by democracy is autonomy, and the US, as a major player in globalization, often limits that local autonomy.

Anyway, it is a heck of a note that so many people in countries with which we are allied are afraid that we will damage their democracy. It is even more embarrassing that almost all of them are substantially more afraid of us than they are of Russia or China.

At least, it is clear from other polls that the standing of the US among our allies has improved substantially because we got rid of Trump and put Joe Biden in.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Democracy Perception Index 2021

The Democracy Perception Index (DPI) is the world’s largest annual study on democracy, covering more than 50 countries and representative of more than 75% of the world’s population. The DPI is conducted by Latana in collaboration with the Alliance of Democracies, to monitor attitudes towards democracy from around the world. Click here to access the 2021 Democracy Perception Index. 

Global Poll: Despite Grim Views of Democracies’ COVID Response, People Want More Democracy

Poll also shows fear of Big Tech and economic inequality

(May 5, 2021) — A new poll of over 50,000 respondents from 53 countries shows people want more democracy, despite satisfaction with governments’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic falling dramatically in the democratic world.

Whereas in the spring of 2020 people in both more democratic and less democratic countries were equally satisfied with their government’s pandemic response (~70%), one year later the approval ratings have dropped down to 65% in less democratic countries, and all the way down to 51% in more democratic countries.

The Democracy Perception Index, released by Latana and the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, is the fourth installment of the world’s largest annual study on democracy, representative of more than 75% of the world’s population. It was prepared for the fourth-annual Copenhagen Democracy Summit on May 10-11, which will feature speakers such as Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen, Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová, Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó, Adam Schiff, Chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee and 26th US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

Other highlights:

The study shows that people still have faith in Democracy: 81% of people around the world say that it is important to have democracy in their country. However, only a little more than half (53%) say their country is actually democratic today — even in democracies.

  • Respondents view economic inequality as the single biggest threat to democracy around the world (64%).
  • About half of people (48%) in the global survey say that the power of Big Tech companies is a threat to democracy in their country, with people in the US having the largest concern of Big Tech (62%) out of all the democracies.

Biden’s Democracy Summit and the UK’s Democracies-10 initiative 

  • About half of people in the countries polled support the idea of an Alliance of Democracies (in the form of either Biden’s proposed Democracy Summit or the UK’s D-10 initiative).

A ‘Biden Effect’? 

The survey offers a mixed picture for Americans with many countries still holding negative views about US influence — but there are also some early signs of a “Biden effect”:

  • Nearly half (44%) of respondents in the 53 countries surveyed are concerned that the US threatens democracy in their country; fear of Chinese influence is 38%, and fear of Russian influence is lowest at 28%.
  • However, since last year, the perception of US influence on democracy around the world has increased significantly, from a net opinion of +6 to a net opinion of +14. This increase is particularly high in Germany (+20) and China (+16).
  • The countries still overwhelmingly negative about US influence are Russia and China, followed by European democracies.

Pandemic Backlash? 

  • Around the world, about 58% of people say their country is responding well to the COVID-19 crisis. Asian countries have the highest rates of satisfaction at 75%, while Latin America and Europe have the lowest (42% and 45% respectively).
  • Overall satisfaction with governments’ pandemic responses has dropped dramatically since last year, from 70% to 58% globally. This drop is largest in more democratic countries (down to 51%) and in Europe (down to 45%).
  • The perception that governments have done too much to limit freedoms during the pandemic has grown over the past year in almost all countries, from 45% in 2020 to 53% in 2021.

To see the full report of findings visit: For the full data, visit the Democracy Perception Index — 2021 — Results Table

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Chair of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, former NATO Chief and Danish Prime Minister, said:

“This poll shows that democracy is still alive in people’s hearts and minds. We now need to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering more democracy and freedom to people who want to see their countries become more democratic. 

“The positive support for an Alliance of Democracies, whether the UK’s D10 initiative or President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, shows that people want more cooperation to push back against the autocrats. Leaders should take note of these perceptions and act upon them.” 

Dr. Nico Jaspers, CEO, Latana, said:

“As we’re entering a period of profound economic, political and societal changes, democracy is more important than ever. It enables us to have a say in what we want our collective future to look like.”


Countries/areas surveyed were: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam.

Methodology: The Democracy Perception Index was conducted by Latana and the Alliance of Democracies in the Spring of 2021, between February 24th and April 14th. The sample of n=53,194 online-connected respondents was drawn across 53 countries, with an average sample size of around 1,000 respondents per country. Nationally representative results were calculated based on the official distribution of age, gender and education for each country’s population, sourced from most recent and available data from Barro Lee & UNStat, and The average margin of error across all countries sampled is (+/-) 3.2 percentage points.

The study uses Freedom House 2021 classifications to create the following categories of countries:

“Free” — labeled as “Free” by Freedom House
“Less Free” — labeled as either “Partially Free” or “Not Free” by Freedom House

The full results tables are available below:

Democracy Perception Index — 2021 — Results Tables 

Democracy Perception Index — 2020 — Results Tables

Democracy Perception Index — 2019 — Results Tables

Democracy Perception Index — 2018 — Report

For more information contact

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.