Fears of a major health epidemic, terrorist attacks and being involved in a war are haunting Canadians and other people around the world, who believe the planet is more dangerous than it was last year, a major international survey shows.
There is a growing global view, too, that war is the best way to obtain justice as leaders like Vladimir Putin take chunks out of neighbouring countries and Islamic State attacks continue, says the survey of people in 24 countries obtained by The Globe and Mail.
The survey by Ipsos, a global research company, is to be presented at the sixth annual Halifax International Security Forum (HISF), which begins on Friday.
Four cabinet ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, seven U.S. four-star generals and the largest U.S. congressional delegation yet, led by Republican senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, are attending the three-day forum, known as the security equivalent of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
TAKING THE PULSE OF A VULNERABLE WORLD
A majority worldwide supports coalition air strikes on Islamic State forces, but 48 per cent doubt they will succeed. Only 37 per cent of Canadians believe the strikes will eliminate the militants "as a serious threat to peace."
Eighty-three per cent of those surveyed see the world as more dangerous than in 2013, with Turks leading at 91 per cent, compared with 84 per cent of Americans and 82 per cent of Canadians.
For Peter Van Praagh, HISF president, a couple of issues from the Ipsos survey stand out. "This year has proven that there are actors who just don't want to play by the rules," he says, singling out Mr. Putin, the Russian leader, and his actions in Ukraine, and Islamic State.
For example, Germany, he said, which traditionally believed diplomacy was the best way to solve these issues, is now seeing things differently – 42 per cent of Germans believe that "under some conditions, war is necessary to obtain justice." This sentiment is up 15 points from last year.
The survey of 17,581 respondents in 24 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Poland, Japan, Russia, Spain and Australia, was conducted Oct. 5 to 19, just before deadly attacks on the two soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec.
"It's only been in the last four or five years that polling has got to the stage where you can literally take the pulse of the world," Ipsos's John Wright said. "So this is a really interesting thing where you can actually see the events that have transpired and how vulnerable people feel about it."
FEARS OF THE KREMLIN
Mr. Wright notes the survey is showing that Russia is becoming the world's "pariah."
Respondents were asked if they believed their country had enough "common values with" the United States, China, the European Union or Russia to "be able to co-operate on solving many important international problems."
Sixty-three per cent said they could work with the United States, 69 per cent said they could work with the EU, and 50 per cent said they could co-operate with China, but only 46 per cent believed they could work with Russia.
"It should not be a surprise to the folks at the Kremlin," Mr. Van Praagh said. "I think that we saw that the other day at the G20 meeting in Australia. From my reading of it, the Russian leader went home early as a result of growing isolationism from some countries that had increasing partnerships with Russia that is now going in the opposite direction."
He mentioned Germany as a country that is now "taking a much tougher tone" with Russia.
FEARS OF AN EPIDEMIC
Meanwhile, two issues are scaring people – 59 per cent of respondents fear an epidemic in their country within a year, up 13 points from last year, and 51 per cent are worried about being involved in an armed conflict with another nation. This is an increase of seven points from 2013.
Canadians are less worried this year about their personal information being hacked by a foreign country but more worried about a major health epidemic. Sixty-two per cent of Canadians compared to 47 per cent last year are worried about an epidemic. Last year, 67 per cent were worried about having their computers hacked compared to 57 per cent this year.