Strengthening Alliances in an Isolationist World - Halifax
Strengthening Alliances in an Isolationist World
November 21, 2013



21 November 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Citizens surveyed from 24 countries overwhelmingly believe their countries should focus less on the world and more on problems at home, according to a poll released today by the Halifax International Security Forum on the eve of the fifth annual security conference. Eight in ten (78%) of global respondents agree that given the difficult economic issues in their country today, their country needs to focus less on the world, including 75% of Canadians and 88% of Americans.

“The results of this polling show a world where people are increasingly looking for leadership to tackle today’s most difficult security challenges as well as uncertainty about who leads and how,” said Peter Van Praagh, President of the Halifax International Security Forum. “Our challenge is to engage in a discussion that finds cooperative solutions and strengthens alliances on the most pressing security issues.”

Conducted annually since 2010, the poll found that Americans and Canadians alike see the world as a more dangerous place than just three years ago. The results of trend data collected over these years through a partnership between Halifax International Security Forum and IPSOS, the third largest market and opinion company in the world, show 30% more Canadians and 22% more Americans see a nuclear or chemical attack as a real threat than those surveyed in 2011. As well, 18% more Canadians and 13% more Americans see a terrorist attack in their country as a real threat than those surveyed in 2011.

A majority of citizens surveyed also believe their country has a responsibility to be a moral leader in the world. The poll found that 79% of Canadians and 72% of Americans, as well as 83% of those in China, believed economic power is more important than military power. People were strongly supportive of their countries responding to natural disasters and famines, and Americans and Canadians also believe their respective nations should help the growth of democracy and assist less developed economies.

Those surveyed differed significantly on their views regarding the use of military force. Of the twenty-four countries surveyed, Americans, at 74%, and Chinese, at 80%, believe that under some conditions war is necessary to obtain justice. In comparison, only 41% of world citizens and 48% of Canadians agreed.

These results will inform discussions on the agenda for the 2013 Halifax International Security Forum, about the role of military force and pull of isolationism around the world. The Halifax International Security Forum is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC.

A full summation of the findings as well as the research undertaken can be found at the following site:

For more information about the Halifax International Security Forum please contact our communications team at: and for more information on research produced for the Forum please contact Dr. Darrell Bricker, Global CEO, IpsosPublic Affairs at or 416-324-2001.