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Trust in China Remains Top- Trust in U.S. Plunges

Eric Zuesse

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The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer survey, which is the latest in the annual Edelman series taken in 28 countries, shows that the people of China have the highest trust in their country’s institutions, and that the people of U.S. recorded an all-time-record loss of trust as compared to the prior year: a stunning 37% loss of trust — that’s comparing 2017’s 52% of Americans trusting America’s institutions, down to 43% of Americans trusting them, a 9% slide, which Edelman referred to by saying, “Trust decline in the U.S. is the steepest ever measured.”

That 9% was the average loss for each one of the four institutions measured; and, so, Edelman’s Technical Appendix explained: “We then added these changes together across the four institutions, yielding a value of -37. This shows that in the U.S., the four main institutions lost a combined 37 percentage points.”

For comparison this year, against that -37%, the second-biggest loss of trust was the -21% in Italy. Tied for the third-biggest and fourth-biggest loss were Brazil and South Africa, both at -17%. Tied for fifth-biggest and sixth-biggest loss were Colombia and India, both at -13%. However India still remained one of the four highest-trust nations, having been #1 in trust in the 2017 survey, down now to the #3 position this year. Last year, China was #3; so, China and India switched positions between 2017 and 2018. The -37% for America simply outclasses all those other declines; and so this trust-plunge in America is major news.

At the very bottom of trust in institutions is Russia, which displays 36% trust in its institutions. Second-lowest is Japan, which displays 37% trust. The two lowest in 2017 were Russia, at 34% and Poland at 35%. Russia was at the very bottom both years because one of the four “Institutions” is NGOs, and “Trust in NGOs” ranged worldwide in 2018 from a top of 71% in Mexico, down to a bottom of 25% in Russia, and this Russian bottom is a stunning 12 points below the second-from-bottom, Germany, which is at 37%. By contrast, for example, “Trust in Government” was 44% in Russia, and is only 33% in the United States. Trust in Government is the highest in China: 84%. (That’s the highest-trusted of the four Institutions there; the lowest of the four Institutions there is NGOs: 61%.) So: whereas the plunge across-the-board is record-shattering in U.S., the sheer lowness of trust in that one institution, NGOs, is (and has been) record-shattering in Russia, and perhaps these are the two main take-aways (or main findings) in this Edelman study.

The four “Institutions” surveyed are: NGOs, Business, Government, and Media.

The page “Trust Crash in U.S.” shows that, in the “General Population,” Americans’ trust in NGOs plunged 9 points from 58% to 49%; trust in Business plunged 10 points; trust in Government plunged 14 points; and trust in Media plunged 5 points. However, amongst America’s “Informed Public,” these figures are even drastically worse that that: down 22 points on NGOs, 20 points on Business, 30 points on Government, and 22 points on Media. Looking further into those figures: what has happened in the U.S. is that, whereas in 2017, America’s Informed Public had enormously higher trust in each of these four Institutions than did the General Population, now the Informed Public (which in all nations typically displays much higher trust than do the General Population) plunged down not only to below where the General Population’s trust-level had been in 2017, but even to below that, and is now almost as low as is that of the General Population. That’s  a stunning plunge amongst the elite. So, Edelman’s reports noted for “Informed Public”: “23-point decrease: fell from 6th to last [28th] place,” meaning that the average decline on the four Institutions was 23%.

Furthermore: “U.S. Trust in Media Diverges Along Voting Lines” so that whereas 27% of Republicans trust the Media, 61% of Democrats do. This is the biggest type of partisan divide shown.

“Government Most Broken in the U.S.”: Whereas only 4% of Americans consider NGOs “broken,” and 7% consider Business “broken,” and 21% consider Media “broken,” 59% consider Government “broken.” In China, these figures are: 24% consider NGOs “broken,” 38% consider Business “broken,” 12% consider Media “broken,” and 10% consider Government “broken.” Though Russians place NGOs in the sewer, Americans place NGOs on a pedestal. That says a lot.

“Media Now Least Trusted Institution” amongst all 28 surveyed nations. However, trust in the media is above 60% in three nations: China (71%), Indonesia (68%), and India (61%). 7 nations have less than a third of the population trusting their media: Turkey (30%), Australia (31%), Japan, Sweden and UK (32%), and France and Ireland (33%).

Digging deeper into the “Media” issue: there has been, amongst the 28 nations, a movement away from online news (called “Platforms” by Edelman) toward traditional sources of news (called “Journalism” by Edelman): “While Trust in Platforms Declines, Trust in Journalism Rebounds”: trust in “Journalism” rose from 54% then, up to 59% now, and trust in “Platforms” sank from 53% then, to 51% now. This supports the view that the global campaign by “Journalism” (print and broadcast media) attacking “fake news” as being a product of “Platforms” (social media, search engines, and news aps) and not at all of themselves (such as the newspapers and TV that trumpeted “Saddam’s WMD” etc. and yet still are trusted as if they hadn’t been the ones spreading that pathologically fake ‘news’) has succeeded. In other words: ’news’ that is print or broadcast and thus can’t provide to its audience easy access to its sources being merely a click or two away, is more trusted than is online news, which can (and some of which sites actually do) provide such ability for the audience to check its allegations easily for themselves (merely by clicking onto a link). In other words: the public evidently don’t want to be empowered to verify allegations, but instead want ’news’ that they either can’t verify for themselves or would need to physically do their own personal investigation (not just by means of a click online) in order to decide whether or not to trust the purported ’news’. This shows that the billionaires, who control all of the traditional sources of ‘news’, will likely continue to control the ‘news’, perhaps even more in the future, than now. And it shows that the public, worldwide (at least in these 28 nations), want them to continue controlling the ‘news’. Independent online news-sites will thus likely be easy to crush. They aren’t even being called “Journalism,” no matter how much better than such “Journalism” the best of them might actually happen to be.

“Trust in Platforms Decreased in 21 of 28 Countries” and there was the “Steepest decline in U.S.” So: especially Americans are increasingly trusting and getting their ‘news’ from the Establishment (which generally crave every invasion that the government is considering).

“Uncertainty Over Real vs. Fake News”: 63% worldwide agree with “The average person does not know how to tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods.” People are passive about that; they accept this personal incompetence that they attribute to themselves. The vast majority of people don’t know that all ‘news’ media that don’t require all reporters to link to any source that they’re using that’s online, should be distrusted and simply avoided, not relied upon (such as is increasingly being done). If there aren’t links provided to all reasonably questionable allegations, and if no quotations are provided of titles or key allegations that can conveniently be web-searched to find and evaluate its source, then that ‘news’ medium can’t reasonably be trusted — but it is instead trusted the most. Since there’s more trust in the non-verifiable print and broadcast ‘news’ media than in the verifiable online ones that do provide clickable links to their online sources, most of the public are satisfied to trust media on the basis of sheer ‘authority’, not on the basis of the reader’s open-mindedness and critical evaluation of every allegation.

“Voices of Authority Regain Credibility”: Out of 11 types of “spokespersons” cited in ‘news’ reports, what’s most distrusted are “A person like yourself” (now rated “at all-time low”) and an “Employee.” What’s most trusted of all is a “Journalist” (presumably here print or broadcast) and what’s second-most-trusted is a “CEO” — these two (the mega-corporates) are trusted considerably more than, for examples, a “Technical expert,” or than an “Academic expert.” So: the mega-corporates don’t even need to cite their own selected and paid ‘experts’, and can just cut their costs, while retaining the loyalty of their (and even growing) following. That makes dictatorship so easy to do — even while cutting costs.

“Employers Trusted Around the World”: this ranged from a low of 57% in Japan and South Korea, to highs of 90% in Indonesia, 86% in India, 83% in Colombia, and 82% in China. Obviously, CEOs are exceptionally high-status around the world. Employees, by contrast, are at or near the bottom.

“Trust in Government” is the highest in China (84%), UAE (77%), Indonesia (73%), India (70%), and Singapore (65%). It is the lowest in South Africa (14%), Brazil (18%), Colombia (24%), Poland (25%), Italy (27%), Mexico (28%), and France and U.S. (33%). Here is that complete list, from the top, all the way down to the bottom: 84% China, 77% UAE, 73% Indonesia, 70% India, 65% Singapore, 54% Netherlands, 51% Turkey, 46% Sweden, 46% Malaysia, 46% Hong Kong, 46% Canada, 45% South Korea, 44% Russia, 43% Germany, 41% Argentina, 37% Japan, 36% UK, 35% Ireland, 35% Australia, 34% Spain, 33% U.S., 33% France, 28% Mexico, 27% Italy, 25% Poland, 24% Colombia, 18% Brazil, 14% South Africa. Since UAE is the very opposite of being a “democracy”, that cannot reasonably be considered to be possibly a rank-ordering of these nations according to the extent they’re a democracy. However, it might possibly be a rank-ordering of the extent to which the public are satisfied with their government; and, so, the complete list is shown here on that factor.

“Trust in Media” national rankings are quite similar to the national rankings on “Trust in Government,” except that Turkey ranks at the very bottom, 28th on this, at only 30%, whereas Turkey ranks 7th (51%) on “Trust in Government.”

“Trust in Business” is topped by Indonesia (78%), India and China (74%), Mexico (70%), UAE (68%), Colombia (64%), and Netherlands (60%). At the bottom on this are Hong Kong and South Korea (36%), Ireland (40%), Russia (41%), and Japan (42%). Canada and U.S. are in the middle: respectively #14 (49%) and 15 (48%).

“Trust Declines in Nine Country Brands” (defined by “company headquartered in”) and by far the most decline of all (6% down, from 55% to 50%) was for U.S. products and services. The most-trusted brands shown (all rated 65% to 68%) are #1 Canada (same as last year) Switzerland (down 1 percent from last year but still #2), and Sweden (down 3% from being tied last year with Canada). The most-distrusted brands shown were India and Mexico (32%), Brazil (34%), China (36%), South Korea (43%) and U.S. (50%). Consequently, for example, any corporation that moves from U.S. to Canada, would, as of now, rise from being a 50%-rated national brand to being a 68%-rated national brand. Of course, such a trick would be more effective for a relatively new corporation, not for one that has already become widely known to be a U.S. brand.

“Polarization of Trust” contrasts the “6 markets with extreme trust losses” (which are topped by U.S.) versus the “6 markets with extreme trust gains.” The latter group are #1 China +27%, #2 UAE +24%, #3 South Korea +23%, #4 Sweden +20%, #5 Malaysia +19%, and #6 Poland +17%. Those latter 6 are becoming places where headquartering a corporation there is adding significantly to the brand-value of that corporation’s products and services.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Americas

Minor Successes And The Coronavirus Disaster: Is Trump A Dead Duck?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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That reminder from the Bible, ‘He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone’ may give us pause — but not journalists who by all appearances assume exemption.  And the stones certainly bruise.

Evidence for the bruises lies in the latest poll numbers.  Overall, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump 50 to 43 percent, a margin that has continued to increase since January.  It is also considerably wider than the few points lead Hillary Clinton had over Trump four years ago.  It gets worse for Trump. 

In the industrial states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump in 2016 won by razor thin margins, he is losing by over 4 percent.  Also key to his victory was Wisconsin where, despite his success in getting dairy products into Canada, he is behind by a substantial 7 percent.  Key states Ohio and Florida are also going for the Democrats.

Trump was not doing so badly until the coronavirus struck and during the course of his news conferences he displayed an uncaring persona larded with incompetence.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man he fired for correcting Trumpian exaggerations became a hero and Trump the bully.

If that bullying nature won him small rewards with allies, he hit an impasse with China and Iran … while bringing the two closer to each other.  Then there is the border wall, a sore point for our southern neighbor Mexico.  President Lopez Obrador made sure the subject never came up at the July meeting with Trump,   Thus Mexico is not paying for it so far and will not be in the foreseeable future.

The United Arab Emirates, a conglomeration of what used to be the Trucial States under British hegemony. have agreed to formalize its already fairly close relations with Israel.  In return, Israel has postponed plans to annex the West Bank.  Whether or not it is in Israel’s long term interest to do so is a debatable question because it provides much more powerful ammunition to its critics who already accuse it of becoming an apartheid regime.  However, it had become Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sop to the right wing who will have to wait.  Of course, the reality is that Israel is already the de facto ruler.

If Mr. Trump was crowing about the agreement signed on September 15, although it is akin to someone signing an agreement with Puerto Rico while the United States remains aloof.  As a postscript, the little island of Bahrain also signed a peace deal with Israel.  Bahrain has had its own problems in that a Sunni sheikh rules a Shia populace.  When the Shia had had enough, Saudi and UAE troops were used to end the rebellion.  Bahrain is thus indebted to the UAE.

How many among voters will know the real value of these historic (according to Trump) deals particularly when he starts twittering his accomplishments as the election nears?

There things stand.  As they say, there is nothing worse than peaking too early.  Bettors are still favoring Trump with their money.  The longer anyone has been in politics the more there is to mine, and for an opponent to use to his/her advantage.  Time it seems is on Trump’s side.  

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U.S. Elections: Trump’s Strategy of “Peace” might help

Sojla Sahar

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Presidential elections in the United States are around the corner and campaigns by the presidential candidates are in full swing in whole of the United States. The Republicans have nominated Donald Trump as their presidential candidate whereas the Democrats have chosen the seasoned politician Joe Biden who has also served as the vice president under the Obama administrations. Over here, a fact shouldn’t be forgotten that the so-called Democrats have also imposed an unnecessary war and burden of foreign intervention on the people of America. Let it US intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria this has imposed huge financial burden on the American people that is being pay by their taxes. United States has around 200,000 troops scattered in the world. There are around 38,000 in Japan, 34,000 in Germany, 24,000 in Korea, 5,000 Bahrain, 5,000 in Iraq, 3,000 in Spain and 12,000 in Afghanistan. Under the Trump administration, much needed decision was taken by the administration for pulling out of troops from all the unwanted and unwelcomed foreign interventions. This has cost huge monetary burden and heavy taxes on the people of US. These interventions were a gift by Democrats to its people that led American to nothing.

Under Trump administration, US decided to withdrawal its troops from Northern Syria. US have around 1,000 troops positioned in the Northern Syria for deterring Iranian influence and countering ISIS expansion in the country. They have decided only to leave special operations force in Syria and will pull out the rest from the conflict zone. It is not the task that will come to an end in days it will take years and huge budget to relocate the troops. This decision might be a breath of fresh air for the Americans but it might weaken the US military positions in front of the Russian military on the globe. United States also has American military troop’s presence in Germany as well. Trump administration is willing to reduce the troops in Germany by around 25%. There is around 11,900 troop’s present in Germany for securing Europe’s security. The Trump administration is focused on relocation and strategic repositioning of the US troops in the world. For this, the Trump administration has decided to pull out its 6,400 troops from Germany as they whole burden is on the US shoulders for costs maintaining alliance and Germany is not paying its share in the defense budget of NATO putting all the burden on the US citizens. Trump administration also slammed the European countries of not paying their due share in NATO defense budget. Italy spends about 1.22% from its budget and Belgium spends around 0.93% from its GDP on the NATO defense budget.

In addition, the Trump administration has shown that they do not want war and conflict. They have also retreated themselves from the foreign intervention drama that has led to damage to the peace of the world. Trump has given an impression that he aims to bring peace in the world not by arms but through negotiations with the conflict actors. Its example is US negotiations with Taliban’s for ending the endless war fruitless war that brought destruction for Afghanistan and brutally damaged the standing of US in the world.

There are around 12,000 American troops in Afghanistan that are now reduced to 8,600 troops. The rest are sent home and some are being settled in Italy and Belgium. The Trump administration has declared to reduce the number of troop in Afghanistan by 5,000 by November and will reach 4,000 by June 2021. They are aiming to completely withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months if a concrete peace deal is signed between Taliban’s and United States.

There were more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan that went there to fight war on terror but are coming back empty handed. But still in even in these circumstances it will benefit the American people and their issues will be addressed in a better way. Not just this, Trump administration has also decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq that has been there for more than 19 years now putting a burden on American shoulders.

 All of this decision by the Trump administration shows that under Trump USA will go for the isolationist impulses that will help them to rebuild domestically and resolve the problem of its people who are indulged in unemployment, poverty, crumbling health system particularly after the outbreak of COVID-19. The health system of United States has proven to be fragile. Despite of being the wealthiest country, its health system crumbled within days leaving thousands of people to die in waiting for their appointment. Many of the people had severe financial crisis that refrained them to go to the hospital and get them treated.

According to some sources many hospitals in New York were running out of financial and had to send people on leave because they were unable to pay them. This led to massive unemployment during such desperate times of the year. Developing countries like Pakistan coped with the virus in a better way despite of having poor health facilities.

Under Trump, USA is moving towards “American First” strategy that will lead towards massive shrinkage in the defense budget of US military. The strategy of retrenchment and aversion of foreign intervention might help Trump in winning the next elections because right now United States has more domestic issues than international problems. The flag of truce in the hand of Trump and aim of brining peace in the world might bring him back in the oval office. It seems like Trump will make USA resign from its self-proclaimed post of “world policemen” that will benefit the world and the people of USA.

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Mistrust between Russia and the United States Has Reached an All-Time High

Igor Ivanov

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In August 2020, Politico magazine published three letters outlining their authors’ views of the ways the United States, and the West in general, should build relations with Russia. The first, published on August 5 and signed by over 100 prominent American politicians, diplomats and military leaders, states that Washington’s present policy towards Moscow “isn’t working” and that it is time that the United States “rethink” it. The gist of the proposals is that the United States “must deal with Russia as it is, not as we wish it to be, fully utilizing our strengths but open to diplomacy.”

This letter prompted a response, first from another group of former American ambassadors and political scientists (Politico, August 11) and then from several eminent politicians from Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (August 13). Both groups agree that now is not the time to reconsider policies toward Russia.

I am well acquainted with many of the signatories to these three statements. I worked closely with some of them during my tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and met some of them during negotiations. I still keep in touch with several of them, as we participate in various informal international projects. Since most parties to the emerging discussion are both highly experienced professionals and public figures, their stances on Russia are well known. The list of signatories under each statement hardly came as a surprise to anyone.

I do not think it makes sense to dwell in too much detail on the arguments presented by the parties. At the same time, proceeding from my own experience of U.S.–Russia relations, I would think that I have the right to put forward some considerations of my own.

First of all, on whether a “new reset” in relations between Washington and Moscow is either possible or desirable. One gets the impression that the authors of the letters see the “old reset” spearheaded by the Obama administration as a kind of bonus or advance offered by the United States to Russia in the hope that the latter would “behave” properly. The debate focuses on whether or not Russia has justified this “advance,” and whether or not it deserves a new bonus. Personally, I cannot recall a single instance where the United States (during Barack Obama’s presidency or under any other administration) gave Russia a “bonus” or “advance” of any kind, made a unilateral concession or indeed did anything that was not in the interests of the United States.

As I see it, the “reset” fully met the long-term interests of both states, particularly in security. Only a very biased observer would claim that the New START Treaty constituted a unilateral concession to Moscow on the part of Washington. Similarly, NATO’s call at the 2010 Lisbon Summit for a true strategic partnership with Russia can hardly be viewed as a unilateral concession. In both instances, the interests of both parties were taken into account, as were the interests of international security in general.

Russia and the United States remain the world’s leading nuclear powers, boasting the largest strategic weapons capabilities. Moscow and Washington have been engaged in mutual deterrence for decades now. However, an objective analysis of the challenges and threats to Russian and U.S. security shows that the very real dangers that do exist emanate not from the two countries themselves, but rather from processes and trends that lie outside the bilateral relations. Accordingly, any predictions about the possible and desirable prospects for interaction between the two states will be incomplete at the very least if they are taken out of the overall context of the development of the international system.

We have to admit that mistrust between Russia and the United States has reached an all-time high. It will take years, maybe even decades, to rectify this situation. However, I am confident that, sooner or later, we will have to start moving in that direction, not because one party will “wear” the other down, forcing it to make unilateral concessions or even throw itself at the mercy of the winner. First, each side has a large safety margin and is willing to continue the confrontation for many years to come. Second, history shows us that peace achieved through unilateral concession rarely lasts.

Life itself, by which I mean each side understanding the long-term need of its own security, will force the United States and Russia to resume progress towards cooperation. Such an understanding, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the elections in the two countries, or with the opportunistic calculations of individual political forces. Regardless of these calculations, the world is rapidly moving towards the line beyond which a global disaster looms with increasing clarity. Once we take a peek beyond this line, the entire world, primarily its leading states, which bear special responsibility for the fate of the world, will have to make decisions that go beyond their own immediate interests.

As for the debates on when and with whom the United States should enter into a dialogue with Russia, I believe such discussions have zero practical value. It would be extremely unreasonable and even irresponsible to defer talks in the hope that more convenient or more accommodating interlocutors will appear in the partner country or, alternatively, that a more favourable general political situation for negotiations will appear.

I would like to refer to my own experience. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I constantly kept in touch with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and then with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. That was in the late 1990s–early 2000s. The bombings of Yugoslavia, the war in Iraq, the Middle Eastern crisis, the expansion of NATO and many, many other events objectively made the U.S.–Russia dialogue more difficult. Obviously, our views on many issues differed greatly. But we never broke off our dialogue, not for a day, no matter how difficult it was. Strictly speaking, this is the art of diplomacy: conducting a dialogue with a difficult partner, achieving agreements where the stances of the parties veer widely and the chances of reaching a comprise appear minimal.

Critics will hasten to say that the U.S.–Russia dialogue in the early 21st century failed to prevent many conflicts and wars, and that is true. But it also helped prevent far graver consequences and, where possible, even led to the signing of important mutually acceptable agreements (New START, etc.). The experience of global diplomacy tells us that the only way to find solutions is through dialogue. The sooner our leading politicians realize it, the faster we will step away from mutual public accusations and destructive information wars waged with cutting-edge technologies and move towards earnest talks on the crucial issues of the 21st-century agenda.

Giving general advice is easy. It is even easier to take the high horse, insisting on staying faithful to one’s values and principles. It is much more difficult for those who have been accorded the requisite powers to make specific decisions. As the great American economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” All we can do is hope that politicians in Russia and the United States will prefer the unpalatable to the disastrous.

From our partner RIAC

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