Home Communication Public Opinion, Transatlantic Relations and the Use of Force
Military force in specific cases
The limitation of questions like those dealt with above is indeed that they explore the support for the use of military force, so to say, 'on the cheap', in a very abstract way and in hypothetical situations. It is therefore hard to predict whether this 'permissive consensus' would remain or rather collapse under the pressure of any concrete event. We will explore these differences in detail in later chapters, in the context of four important cases of use of force: Kosovo, Afghanistan, the war on terrorism and Iraq. We here turn to a first inspection of the data resulting from the
A. 'Now I would like to ask you some questions about when [country] should use its military force. For each of the following reasons, would you approve or disapprove the use of [survey country] military forces?' (% approval, 2002, 2004).
B. As you may know, some countries have troops currently engaged in different military operations around the world. To what extent, would you approve or disapprove of the deployment of [nationality] troops for the following operations? (% approval, 2007).
C. The European Union can take greater responsibility for dealing with international threats in a number of different ways. For each of the following, please tell me if you agree or disagree that it is something that the European Union should undertake (% agreement, 2007).
Sources: CCFR-GMFUS, Worldviews 2002, GMFUS, Transatlantic Trends, 2004, 2007.
Figure 3.8 Support for the use of force in different situations in the US and Europe (2004)
aggregate analysis of the impact of question wording on support of force, in anticipation of a fuller and more detailed discussion in Chapter 5 and we observe a consistent transatlantic gap. Table 3.9 reports the average support for the use of force between 1999 and 2004 in all questions asked about specific military operations depending on which wording was included in the question.33 Whatever the specific aspect addressed by particularly worded questions, the evidence always is that Americans are more likely to support the use of military by a margin of some 15-20 percent. While, overall, the degree of support amounts to 59 for Americans it is 17 percentage points lower for Europeans at 42. The gap is relatively even stronger, and increases to 36 when reference is made to civilian casualties (about which Europeans are very concerned) and when perceived benefits (a positive boost) or expected costs (a negative factor) are mentioned. Europeans and Americans worry equally about military casualties, and are almost equally sensitive to references to international legitimacy and to success.
Finally, as noted before, things may change when we move from the consideration of hypothetical policy options to specific cases, such as the Afghanistan and Iraq war. In anticipation of a more detailed analysis in Chapter 5, we observe that in June 2004, majorities in both the US and Europe (EU-5) still supported having troops engaged in the
Table 3.9 Aggregate support of military action under different conditions (in %, EU and US compared)
* difference between American and European support scores. Source: Everts/Isernia database (see Chapter Five for details).
Afghanistan war - albeit with a 12 percentage point difference between US and Europe (69 to 57 percent) - while majorities flipped upside down when it came to Iraq, with 57 percent of the Americans supporting that war in June 2004 and only 34 percent doing the same in Europe.
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