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Putting the pieces together - the sources of differences in support for the use of force

In this section we move to explore what influence each of these four different dimensions - perception of threat, sense of we-feeling, Atlanticism and general orientation toward the use of force - play in explaining attitudes toward the use of force, both in general and in specific circumstances, in Europe as well as in the US. Taken together, the four dimensions of Atlantic community discussed in Chapter 3, together with ideological predispositions, can help us to understand when and why Europeans and Americans clash when it comes to the use of force. To show this we employ a multivariate analysis of the Transatlantic Trends 2004 survey that contains a rich set of data to explore sources of differences between Europeans and Americans. The period is also quite appropriate, since it was a time of great divergence between Europe and the US over the Iraq war.

To test the role that dimensional factors such as Atlanticism and General orientations toward the use of force in international relations have, and their link with Threat perception and Sense of we-feelings, we use the theoretical model displayed in Figure 4.3 that shows the dynamic flow of relationships between our Atlantic community factors and support for specific policies.

Starting from our dependent variable and moving westward, we first argue that not everybody makes the same calculations in deciding whether to support a specific use of force or giving a general permissive support for certain types of military operations. Following along the distinction, put forward by us and others, that the general public cannot be seen as a unique aggregate but made of different groups, our first hypothesis is that different kinds of people will differently weight in the different considerations at play for a specific operation. More precisely, Hawks, Doves and Pragmatists will be moved by different factors in deciding whether to support the use of force.

Using the analogy suggested by Feaver et al. (2009), Hawks and Doves have quite inelastic preference curves when it comes to support for the use of force, while Pragmatists have a wider and quite elastic preference

A model of Atlantic community policy coordination on use of force set and are swayed by many different factors in rationally deciding whether and when to support a specific case of the use of force

Figure 4.3 A model of Atlantic community policy coordination on use of force set and are swayed by many different factors in rationally deciding whether and when to support a specific case of the use of force. This is an important distinction to which we will return in Chapter 6, but in this chapter we set this hypothesis aside. In this chapter, instead, we focus on the role of structural, more ideological, factors.

Moving further to the left, we find what we consider the two most important general orientations in deciding whether to support the use of force - Atlanticism and the general orientation toward the use of force, as measured by our typology. They are both important, although they play quite different roles in our theory. The Typology on the use of force is the single, and most closely related, policy belief or (using Hurwitz and Peffley (1987) jargon), policy postures in explaining support for the use of force. In general, Hawks are much more prone to supporting the use of force in a wider variety of circumstances, and under different conditions than Pragmatists - those, we repeat, who subscribe to the most careful rational cost-benefit calculations of the three groups) - while the Doves are those least moved by any sort of consideration in deciding whether to oppose the use of force.

However, this variable is not enough. Support for the use of force also depends on how much it is a manifestation of a common, Atlantic, effort. Quite separate (although, as we have seen, partially related) from the general orientation toward the use of force, people might be induced to support the use of force if this is seen as a manifestation of Atlantic solidarity, a sign that the Atlantic community is taking a stand against a common enemy. This is one reason why we argue that the sense of legitimacy of an operation is perceived as so important by so many people in deciding whether to support or oppose the use of force. In other words, it is important because it is a clear signpost and expression of a common partnership, and it can play a positive role as such, quite irrespective of the general orientation toward the use of force.

If these two variables are the ones most closely related to support, a second layer of variables has to do with the elements underpinning both Atlanticism and general orientation toward the use of force. We argue for the importance of three main variables: the perception of threat, the sense of we-feelings and the general ideological Left-Right orientation. Perception of threat, we argue, affects support for the Atlantic partnership, in line with the general Realist hypothesis according to which threat perception is positively related to alliance cohesion. More specifically, we also suggest that threat perception affects the typology about war and peace when what we have called the Realist threats come about. When a threat is perceived to belong to the Realist dimension, it affects not only the sense of community but also the availability of the military tool to cope with it. A second important variable is the sense of we-feeling. In our case, we will focus on pro-Americanism and pro-Euro- peanism as the two crucial dimensions that affect the degree of support for Atlanticism and, indirectly, for the use force. The more pro-American and less anti-European an individual is, the closer s/he will feel to the Atlantic community and the more willing to go along with what the Atlantic community decides.

The next element is the ideological make-up of the respondent, based on the respondent's ideological stance on the Left-Right continuum. There is also a direct relationship between the ideological position and the sense of we-feeling, with the argument that those on the Left are, in general more anti-American and those on the Right less pro-European.

The last of this four waves funnel of causality has to do with the sociodemographic variables that, we argue, affect directly our three ideological background variables and the cost-benefit calculation (the latter mainly through education and political awareness).

To test the impact of our dimensions we examine three different measures of support for the use of force. The first indicator measures support for the use of force through a set of hypothetical, but realistic, situations. It was already discussed in Chapter 3 (Table 3.9). The first dependent variable is based on a combined rating of answers to a Likert- scale battery of items asking whether respondents approve or disapprove 'the use of [own country] military troops?' for a number of hypothetical reasons. The reasons listed included a variety of situations such as terrorism, to ensure the supply of oil, or to uphold international law. Based on these items, we constructed a composite measure of general support for the use of force. Figure 3.7 reported the distribution of this composite index for the US and the EU-5. As noted before, 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 appeared to have become even more supportive of the use of force than Americans, including those situations in which humanitarian considerations are prevalent.

As also noted before, things change when we move from the general to the specific. On the issues of Iraq and Afghanistan we use data from TTS in 2004. Support for both the Afghanistan and Iraq military operation are dichotomous variables, coded 0 when one opposes the operation and 1 in the case of support.

 
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