Gallup: 4 NATO nations would pick Russia to defend them rather than US

How much damage did President Obama do to our international relations? A new Gallup International poll of 66 nations shows how far US influence has fallen in the last 8 years. 

The drop has been most conspicuous in our relations with our NATO allies. Four eastern European countries would rather have Russia defend them in case of attack rather than the United States.


By far the largest number of countries polled by WIN/Gallup International chose the U.S. for their go-to defense partner, suggesting that it remains the world’s only military power with truly global reach and alliances.

At the same time, however, China and Russia picked each other, war-torn Ukraine and Iraq split down the middle, while those four members of the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia and Turkey -- plumped for Russia.

As U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis tours Europe delivering a message of tough love to NATO allies -- increase spending or see the U.S. “moderate’’ its support -- the poll shows the world’s gradual political reorganization around different security poles, according to Kancho Stoychev, vice president of WIN/Gallup International.

“It isn’t surprising that Russians and Chinese chose each other, but it is new,’’ said Stoychev. “It shows us something very important -- that U.S. policy over the last 20 years has driven Russia into the arms of China, which is quite strange because Russia is fundamentally a part of Europe.’’

Is this the death of "triangulation" - the Nixon era policy of playing China and Russia off against one another?

It should be noted that both nations have moved beyond their Communist past - Russia moreso than China - but their spheres of influence converge in some regions, including the MIddle East and Iran. Russia hasn't shown much interest in south Asia while China seems content to stay out of Europe. This doesn't make them natural allies, but it makes them a solid bloc in opposition to US interests.

At the same time, some of the results in European NATO countries showed how their fundamental security choices were moving beyond the alliance, he said. Bulgaria and Greece, for example, see their biggest security threat coming from Turkey. Although Turkey is also a NATO member and so theoretically an ally, its invasion and occupation of Northern Cyprus in 1974 showed that these countries cannot rely on NATO to protect them, so they look to Russia.

Similarly, in Western Europe, some NATO members are increasingly looking to other Europeans for security, according to Stoychev. Although 30 percent of Belgians chose the U.S. in the survey, more chose European partners -- 25 percent France and 12 percent the U.K. -- while almost as many Swedes chose the U.K. (29 percent) as the U.S. (31 percent).

The European press is virulently anti-American so these numbers are hardly surprising. But those countries who eschew US protection might be singing a different tune if they had to rely on the UK, France, or Germany to dig them out of a hole. In fact, these people are not thinking straight. The US is the only realistic counterweight to any conceivable enemy for the Europeans, making this poll more wishful thinking than a realistic assessment of the practical attitudes of Europeans toward the United States. 

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