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IEET > Security > Fellows > Mike Treder

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Unease Toward Big Powers

Mike Treder
By Mike Treder
Responsible Nanotechnology

Posted: Jul 7, 2007

A recent report published by the Pew Research Center in Washington says:

A 47-nation survey finds global public opinion increasingly wary of the world’s dominant nations and disapproving of their leaders. Anti-Americanism is extensive, as it has been for the past five years. At the same time, the image of China has slipped significantly among the publics of other major nations. Opinion about Russia is mixed, but confidence in its president, Vladimir Putin, has declined sharply.

Here is a look at the challenge faced by the leaders of Russia and the US as they confront global public opinion:


Meanwhile, a survey published by the Financial Times finds that “Europeans consistently regard the US as the biggest threat to world stability…”


FT also reports

In the US itself, North Korea and Iran are seen as the biggest risks. However, the youngest US respondents share the Europeans’ view that theirs is the biggest threat, with 35 per cent of American 16- to 24-year-olds identifying it as the chief danger to stability.

But back to the Pew Research Center comparison of opinions about the US and China—here is how the global image of each country has slipped in the past few years:


So, what does all this mean for the cause of responsible nanotechnology?

Since it appears that the US and China are the current front-runners as the most likely place for molecular manufacturing to emerge earliest, then trust in the leadership of whichever country succeeds at developing MM first could become a crucial issue.

As described in a report on “Nanotechnology Policy: An Analysis of Transnational Governance Issues Facing the United States and China” [PDF] authored by Evan Michelson of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:

Due to the rapid pace of R&D, discoveries in nanotechnology could come in great, discontinuous leaps and, in turn, revolutionize society’s knowledge and understanding of the physical world in rather short amounts of time. In turn, these technological leaps could come to strain the ability of public institutions and public infrastructure—especially in China, which will likely face an additional host of resource, population, and energy challenges in the coming decades—to respond in an effective and timely manner. (Hat tip to Nanodot)

Based on the worldwide opinion trends revealed above, we’d say that both China and the United States have their work cut out for them in trying to establish confidence—or even credibility—in their fitness to be effective stewards over the awesome power of advanced nanotechnology.

Mike Treder is a former Managing Director of the IEET.
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