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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

2002

2004

2007

US

EU*

Difference

US-EU

US

EU*

Difference

US-EU

US

EU*

Difference

US-EU

- To destroy a terrorist camp

92

75

17

- To prevent an imminent terrorist attack

92

83

9

- To defend a NATO ally that has been attacked

87

73

14

- To provide food and medical assistance to victims of war

81

91

-10

- To assist a population struck by famine

81

88

-7

- To prevent the spread of nuclear weapons

80

70

10

- To liberate hostages

77

78

-1

- To uphold international law

76

80

-4

- To provide peacekeeping troops after a civil war

66

79

-13

- To ensure the supply of oil

65

49

16

44

43

4

- To remove a government that abuses human rights

57

50

7

- To bring peace to a region where there is a civil war

48

72

-24

- To stop the fighting in a civil war

38

53

-15

- To provide humanitarian assistance in the Darfur region of the Sudan

75

79

-4

- To monitor and support a ceasefire in Southern Lebanon

55

60

-5

- To maintain peace and order in the post-conflict Balkans

54

66

-12

- EU should commit more troops for peacekeeping missions*

85

68

17

- EU should commit more troops for combat actions*

66

20

46

Questions:

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.

Support for the use of force in different situations in the US and Europe (2004)

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)

All

US

EU

Diff

US-EU*

Military casualties

49

50

46

4

Civilian casualties

38

54

18

36

Form of military action mentioned

50

60

42

18

Purpose of military action mentioned

53

60

41

19

Objectives/issues

50

60

42

18

Humanitarian purpose/protection of civilians

46

55

35

20

Unilateral action

53

59

44

15

Multilateral action

43

54

43

11

Positive legitimacy/self-defense

53

57

51

6

Negative legitimacy/no support

40

49

29

20

Prospects for success

53

55

48

7

Perceived benefits

40

57

36

21

Expected costs

44

51

31

20

Overall support score all cases (N = 3015)

49.8

59.3

42.4

17

* 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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