The need to differentiate
While the patterns are similar, we should, as before, be cautious to generalize across Europe, especially as far as absolute levels of support are concerned, and refrain from putting too much faith in a rather disparate collection of poll outcomes - put together here in contrast to the method of emphasizing the significance of differences in question wording used elsewhere in this book, particularly in the next chapter.38 While the consistency of the emerging overall pattern gives us confidence in the reliability of the outcome, this is not to deny that, in addition to hiding different outcomes for levels of support that are due to differences in question wording, the aggregate figures for support from Europe obscure to some degree the existence of considerable differences among the various countries, worldwide, but in Europe as well.
More detailed examples of the intra-European diversity and fluctuations over time are given in Table 5.9 and Figure 5.12.
Figure 5.12 Approval of presence of country's troops/participation in combat operations in Afghanistan (2004, 2007, 2008) (in % 'support/approval')
Source: GMFUS, Transatlantic Trends, 2004, 2007, 2008.
Source: GMF, Transatlantic Trends, 2007, 2008, 2009 Format of the questions:
'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?'
... to contribute to international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan (2007)
'As you may know, many countries are engaged in different ways to stabilize Afghanistan. To what extent would you approve or disapprove of [COUNTRY'S] participation in the following efforts in Afghanistan:'
... providing security for economic reconstruction projects (2008)
'As you may know, President Barack Obama has asked European countries to increase their contribution in the effort to stabilize Afghanistan. Would you approve or disapprove of the following?'
... increasing (COUNTRY'S) combat troops in Afghanistan (2009)