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The use of military force in hypothetical cases

Transatlantic differences on the use of force also emerge from other questions aimed at tapping attitudes toward the use of military force in a number of more or less specific hypothetical cases. In 2002, and again in 2004, a very general series of questions aimed at assessing under which conditions the use of force was seen as appropriate, was asked: 'For each of the following reasons, would you approve or disapprove of the use of [own country] military troops?' The reasons listed in 2002 and 2004 included a variety of situations including terrorism, to ensure the supply of oil, to help bring peace in a region where there is civil war, to liberate hostages, to assist a population struck by famine and to uphold international law. The surveys show that with respect to the use of force there was still a large degree of transatlantic consensus. In those years, majorities on both sides of the Atlantic were ready to use military force for a broad range of purposes (Table 3.8).

Overall, Americans as well as Europeans strongly supported the use of troops in four of six situations listed: to destroy a terrorist camp, to liberate hostages, to assist a population struck by famine, and to uphold international law. The difference came only in the emphasis on using military force to combat terrorism, with 92 percent of the Americans

Table 3.7 The typology of power and war by country (2003-2009)

Bulgaria

France

Germany

Italy

Netherlands

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Slovakia

Spain

UK

EU Aver.

USA

Total

Hawks

3

3

3

3

5

3

3

2

3

2

7

3

14

5

Pragmatists

17

21

20

21

33

24

29

24

25

18

46

25

35

27

Doves

63

52

55

52

40

47

52

54

57

65

21

51

10

45

Isolationists

7

8

7

8

6

5

7

8

6

10

5

7

3

6

DK

10

15

15

16

16

22

9

12

9

5

20

14

38

17

Total

100

101

100

100

100

99

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

Source: Transatlantic Trends, 2003-2009 (Slovakia: 2004-2009, Bulgaria and Romania: 2006-2009).

and 75 percent of the Europeans willing to use it in order to destroy a terrorist camp in 2002, a difference consistent with the much stronger concern reported earlier in this chapter among Americans about the threat posed by international terrorism.

Both in 2002 and 2004, there was a marked distinction in the purposes for which one is willing to use military force. A reversal of majorities between Europeans and Americans is visible on those issues which can be labeled roughly as military action for humanitarian and peacekeeping purposes as compared to 'war fighting' or, to use another terminology, as 'wars of choice' rather than 'wars of necessity'. In the first of these latter two sets of cases a larger majority in Europe compared to the United States were willing to use force for this purpose.

Americans, on the other hand, showed more readiness in 2002 to use force to ensure the supply of oil than Europeans. Sixty-five percent of Americans agreed to the use of force for this purpose, while just pluralities of 49 percent of Europeans felt that way in 2002. In 2004 these differences had disappeared, however.32

A more general indicator of the support of force in hypothetical cases can be created by treating items mentioned above as a Likert-scale battery of items. Figure 3.8 reports the distribution of this composite index for the US and the EU-5. The distribution is heavily skewed toward those favorable to using force, with 60 percent of the sample in both Europe and the US approving force in most of the situations mentioned in the list of goals for which the use of force was contemplated. Under certain conditions, Europeans even appeared to be more supportive of the use of force than Americans, including those situations in which humanitarian considerations are prevalent. In contrast, Americans tended to be more supportive of those situations in which objectives related to direct threats to national interests are emphasized. All of them, however, had to react to a hypothetical list of situations that, it has been suggested, might deflate the level of support for the use of force compared to real, concrete issues (Klarevas, 2002: 423-424).

 
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