Aug 2, 2019

Americans divided over threats from climate change, Russia and Iran

Dave Lawler, author of World

Americans are increasingly likely to see China as a threat to the U.S., though they're sharply divided over the dangers from Iran, Russia and climate change according to a new Pew survey.

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals
What Americans want

On Iran...

  • Republicans tend to think it’s more important to take a firm stand against Tehran (68%) than to avoid war (25%), while the opposite is true for Democrats (23% vs. 71%).
  • Overall, Americans are narrowly more likely to prioritize avoiding war (49%) than taking a firm stand (44%).

On China...

The share of Americans who consider China’s power and influence a major threat rose from 46% to 54% since 2017, with similar jumps seen among Democrats (now 52%) and Republicans (58%).

  • Democrats remain more dovish, with only 16% viewing China as an “adversary,” compared to 30% of Republicans.
  • Only 19% of Democrats want to “get tougher” with Beijing on trade and the economy, compared to 54% of Republicans.
  • Democrats overwhelmingly say President Trump’s tariffs have been bad for Americans (82%), while most Republicans (67%) say they’ve been good.
  • In a finding that runs counter to the political zeitgeist, both Republicans (59%) and Democrats (73%) tend to think free trade deals have benefited the U.S.

The great divides...

  • A growing proportion of Republicans (38%) believe Russia does not pose a problem for the U.S., compared to 14% of Democrats. Views of Russia have become strikingly partisan and diverged sharply since 2016.
  • Democrats rank climate change first on a list of potential threats to the country. Republicans, meanwhile, rank it last.
What to watch

Flashback: Fear of terrorism and the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) were central to the 2016 election cycle, following major attacks at home and abroad.

  • Far fewer Americans are worried about ISIS now, according to the poll. The same is true of North Korea — the top fear from two years ago — though 58% say the regime is “not serious” about denuclearization.
  • If this week's Democratic debates are a guide, tensions with Iran and competition with China will top the foreign policy agenda in 2020 — along with lingering questions over Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Of course, a lot can change in 15 months.

Go deeper: Big foreign policy changes coming if Trump loses

Go deeper

Snapchat will no longer promote Trump's account in Discover

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Snapchat will no longer promote President Trump's account on its "Discover" page of curated content, a spokesperson tells Axios, after Trump tweeted comments that some suggested glorified violence amid racial justice protests.

Why it matters: Snapchat is taking action on the president's account for comments he made elsewhere. That's going farther than other big tech firms and signals a commitment to aligning content served to users with core values, rather than making moderation decisions based narrowly on each post made on its own platform.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Esper catches White House off guard with opposition to military use, photo op

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a press briefing Wednesday that he does not support invoking the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that permits the president to use active-duty troops on U.S. soil, in order to quell protests against racial injustice.

Why it matters: President Trump threatened this week to deploy military forces if state and local governments aren't able to squash violent protests. Axios reported on Wednesday that Trump is backing off the idea for now, but that he hasn't ruled it out.

Chinese coronavirus test maker agreed to build a Xinjiang gene bank

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A leading Chinese gene sequencing and biomedical firm that said it would build a gene bank in Xinjiang is supplying coronavirus tests around the world.

Why it matters: U.S. officials are worried that widespread coronavirus testing may provide an opportunity for state-connected companies to compile massive DNA databases for research as well as genetics-based surveillance.