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The geography of support
Bringing the replies to two questions in the poll by Gallup International of November-December 2001 together ('agreement of US military action' and 'participation of [COUNTRY] in US military action') and
Table 5.6 Support of US military action in Afghanistan (in %)
Format of the questions:
Sources: 2001 - IPSOS-Reid, November 12-December 16, 2001, N = not known; 2002 - PEW Research Center, April 2-10, 2002.
distinguishing five degrees of support, we can, finally, draw a more general picture and reconstruct the geography of support to the US military actions for the 59 countries for which data are available (Table 5.8).28
The results, as displayed in Table 5.8, show, first of all, the rather isolated position of the United States in the world. Of the 59 countries in the survey only ten could truly be classified as being outright supportive. These included two groups. One consists of the core of 'staunch NATO allies' (but not including all NATO members), the other of a few scattered countries that supported the US, mostly as 'quid pro quo' or for reasons of their own. It is not even true that all of these ten countries were equally reliable in terms of public support, as can be seen by comparing these data to the results of other polls.29
One other case in this group in particular which merits some skepticism as to whether a majority at the mass level was truly supportive of participating militarily in the struggle was Germany. True, if put in the form of a simple yes-no question, most polls in this country produced majorities of between 50 and 60 percent favoring German participation in the military action.30 When the question was addressed, however, in what specific form Germany should lend military support, it was clear that the respondents preferred by far a supportive role by, for instance, sending transport or medical units rather than troops in a combat role.31
Source: Gallup International, September 2001 and November-December 2001 Data in italics refer to the poll taken in November-December 2001.
'Some countries and all NATO member states have agreed to participate in the military action against Afghanistan. Do you agree or disagree that YOUR COUNTRY should take part with the United States military action against Afghanistan?'
Table 5.8 The geography of support of the US military actions
members: Albania and Romania. Israel is a different case. If one were to go by the data for the first Gallup poll of mid-September, it would have to move to group 1), as is also suggested by other poll data.
Group 3) includes a mixed bunch of countries with truly mixed feelings, roughly consisting of considerable if not majority support for the measure of personal agreement with the action, but also often equally strong rejection of the notion that one's country should take part in the military actions. Among the European countries, it is logical to find traditional 'neutrals' like Finland, Ireland and Sweden in this group, but also to some extent the Baltic states. In some other countries, like Japan and South Korea, the situation was different, however, since the climate was rather one of little outspokenness on either of the two questions.33
Moving to group 4) we find not only other neutralist countries like Austria and Switzerland, but, remarkably, also Spain. In most of these countries there was a modicum of sympathy with the US action, but still majority opposition to the participation of one's country in the military struggle.
Group 5) was the largest of the five and includes 21 countries or 40 percent of the whole group. It includes most of the African, Asian and Latin American countries in the survey, but also - somewhat surprisingly to those who would expect automatic sympathy from NATO members - the remaining NATO members Greece and Turkey.
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