Who’s influencing the world?
December 29, 2006
Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN An Aspen-based research company that helps monitor who is influencing world events has concluded: America’s sway is on the decline.PostGlobal is an experiment in global collaborative journalism by The Washington Post and Newsweek. The company collects information from correspondents worldwide in order to get a portrait of the way the world thinks about the most pressing global issues.In November, PostGlobal hired the Aspen-based firm Denver Research Group to launch the Global Power Barometer, a website that simplifies global events and takes the pulse of U.S. foreign policy. The daily updated site is available at: http://www.blog.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/drg. Click on “Decoding Today’s Chart” to see the day’s analysis. The site gives specifics on what country and what ideas are driving global opinion.The Post’s David Ignatius, along with Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, started PostGlobal in an effort to collect worldwide input on the key issues of the day.”We need new tools to help us make sense of the world around us. With our partners at Denver Research Group, we have created an intelligent information aggregator that analyzes global trends,” Ignatius said in a prepared statement.Chuck McLean, who has degrees in math and economics from Tufts University, runs the Denver Research Group, which analyzes political trends. His firm is conducting socioeconomic studies of the oil and gas industry in Garfield County, for example.”We’re monitoring those countries or ideologies or political movements that are most effectively exercising their power,” McLean said. He boiled it down to one question: “Who in the world is winning and losing?”McLean’s staff collects information from up to 8,000 publications from around the world, processes the information, plugs it into formulas, and distills it for the public. His staff is “virtual” he said, with programmers and number crunchers all across the U.S. and as far away as Israel.”It’s very difficult when you read the paper to get an overview of who’s exercising power, which is why we took on the project,” he said.”It’s a view of the world in 30 seconds,” McLean said. “It gives you a feeling of where the world is coming from on the biggest issues.”The six most powerful movers of global opinion, McLean said, are the U.S., China, Israel, Iran, Russia and Islamists (those who follow Islamic law or promote Islam).And because of recent U.S. foreign policy decisions, McLean said, the U.S. is losing influence globally.”It concerns me,” he said. “Our foreign policy has been so adrift over the last couple of years, particularly in 2006, it’s going to take a very long time for the U.S. to catch up to the position its been in years past.”In the Middle East, Islamists and nations like Iran have been able to step into the void from faltering U.S. policy. Other areas of the world, like South America, China and Russia, have a stronger sway on opinion and events, McLean said.For example, the U.S. is under threat, from a shift in influence in South America, McLean said. With China and Russia building valuable alliances in South America, the region is taking a “hard swing to the left and to anti-Americanism.””Energy is the new weapon of mass destruction,” McLean said. He cited the opinions of Richard Luger, a Republican senator from Indiana, who has made the case in front of legislators that Russia withholding energy from the U.S. is as serious as an attack.The lesson of the group’s research is that the U.S. needs a new, effective foreign policy that engages the world and creates partnerships for peace instead of conflict, McLean said.”The public doesn’t fully understand the situation we’re in and how desperately we need to find unique solutions,” McLean said.”Fresh Approaches,” a new page to premiere Jan. 8 on the Global Power Barometer website, will publish a series of solutions though the month.”A lot of people trying to get across new information, and we are expecting a lot of interesting anonymous comments.”Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.