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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 %)

2001

2002

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Approve

Disapprove

Don't know

France

60

25

15

64

30

6

Germany

60

32

8

61

31

8

Italy

58

30

12

59

37

4

United

Kingdom

65

19

16

73

18

9

United

States

88

7

5

83

10

7

Format of the questions:

  • 2001: 'As you know, the United States has launched military strikes on targets in Afghanistan - including military sites of the Taliban government, and training camps of the Al Qaeda group led by Osama bin Laden. All things considered, do you support or oppose these US-led air strikes on Afghanistan?'
  • 2002: 'As I read some specific US policies, tell me if you approve or disapprove of them:' - The US-led military campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

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

September 2001 November- December 2001

Agree, country should take part

Disagree, country should not take part

Don't

know

Difference between support of US policy in general (Gallup, November-December2001) and participation of one's own country in military action (% agree)

Austria

  • 14
  • 6
  • 82
  • 85
  • 4
  • 9

30

Belgium

50

42

7

2

Bulgaria

  • 21
  • 14
  • 66
  • 63
  • 13
  • 23

20

Croatia

  • 36
  • 18
  • 56
  • 70
  • 9
  • 12

22

Czech Republic

  • 55
  • 48
  • 34
  • 41
  • 11
  • 11

21

Denmark

  • 80
  • 64
  • 13
  • 30
  • 7
  • 8

1

Estonia

  • 38
  • 27
  • 53
  • 71
  • 9
  • 2

25

Finland

  • 8
  • 7
  • 83
  • 84
  • 9
  • 9

45

France

  • 73
  • 67
  • 23
  • 28
  • 4
  • 5

6

Germany

  • 53
  • 58
  • 43
  • 38
  • 4
  • 4

7

Greece

  • 29
  • 7
  • 60
  • 86
  • 11
  • 7

2

Ireland

32

59

19

16

Italy

  • 66
  • 57
  • 26
  • 38
  • 8
  • 5

3

Latvia

24

66

10

16

Lithuania

  • 41
  • 16
  • 49
  • 73
  • 10
  • 11

28

Netherlands

  • 66
  • 66
  • 20
  • 25
  • 14
  • 9

9

Norway

  • 58
  • 53
  • 32
  • 42
  • 10
  • 6

2

Romania

  • 40
  • 39
  • 52
  • 42
  • 8
  • 19

14

Russia

11

79

10

28

Slovak Republic

32

58

10

21

Spain

  • 58
  • 33
  • 37
  • 50
  • 5
  • 7

1

Sweden

26

64

10

27

Switzerland

  • 28
  • 12
  • 65
  • 76
  • 7
  • 12

35

Turkey

14

71

15

2

Ukraine

  • 12
  • 4
  • 79
  • 90
  • 9
  • 6

22

United Kingdom

79

12

9

0

(ex NI)

68

25

9

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

1) Very supportive

2) Rather supportive

3) Mixed feelings

4) Rather opposed

5) Strongly opposed

Australia

Canada

Denmark

France

Germany

India

Italy

Kosovo

Luxembourg

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

United Kingdom

Albania

Belgium

Czech Republic

Israel

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Finland

Georgia

Ireland

Japan

Kenya

Korea

Kyrgyzstan

Latvia

Lithuania

Slovak Republic

Sweden

Venezuela

Austria

Colombia

Croatia

Hong Kong

Nigeria

Philippines

Spain

Switzerland

Argentina

Azerbaijan

Bolivia

Bosnia

Bulgaria

Cameroon

Dominican Rep.

Ecuador

Greece

Guatemala

Macedonia

Malaysia

Mexico

Pakistan

Panama

Russia

Turkey

Uruguay

Yugoslavia

Zimbabwe

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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