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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.

Approval of presence of country's troops/participation in combat operations in Afghanistan (2004, 2007, 2008) (in % 'support/approval')

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.

Question wording:

  • 2004: 'As you may know [COUNTRY] troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan. Do you approve or disapprove of the presence of [COUNTRY] troops in Afghanistan?' [Note: in 2004 question was not asked in Slovakia].
  • 2007: '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 conduct combat operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan?'2008: '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: Conducting combat operations against the Taliban'.

2007

2008

2007

2008

2009

Contribute to international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan

Provide security for economic reconstruction project

Conduct combat operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan

Increase [COUNTRY'S] troops for combat operations in Afghanistan at request of Obama

Bulgaria

39

75

20

27

6

France

71

87

36

52

15

Germany

58

83

24

37

13

Italy

71

86

28

38

21

Netherlands

75

82

45

69

20

Poland

54

65

20

29

14

Portugal

73

88

30

51

31

Romania

62

56

25

24

9

Slovakia

44

75

16

20

11

Spain

81

85

27

40

25

Turkey

50

53

25

39

27

United

69

75

51

65

22

Kingdom

EU-11

66

82

31

43

18

USA

64

73

68

76

-

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)

 
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