Home Communication Public Opinion, Transatlantic Relations and the Use of Force
Initial outcomes: the geography of support
Before we start our analysis of the impact of the various influence factors, we show how overall support varies among both issues and the countries concerned. In Table 6.2, support scores are given for all cases as well as for each case separately, for each of the three groups (US (N = 1497), EU (N = 1103), and Other countries (N = 415)), for all observations.
Looking at the four cases, it is interesting to note that for all countries together the differences are quite small, hovering around the 50 percent level. Disaggregating the countries reveals interesting distinctions, however. To start with the first major apparent difference: the public in the United States was (and is), in general, considerably more supportive of the use of force, by some ten percentage points above the average across all nations, or, more specifically, some 17 percentage points above Europe and 24 percentage points above the Other countries. This is not the case for all individual countries concerned, however. Differences are much less in the case of Kosovo compared with the other three cases, while they are largest with respect to actions against terrorism.
Across the different cases of the use of force, the cross-countries differences are also considerable, which only appears when we disaggregate and look at the different (groups of) countries. Overall, support varied between 76 percentage points of support for the Afghanistan operation in the US down to a meager 30 percent support in the group of Other countries for the war against Iraq. On Kosovo, though support was generally lower than on the other issues, there was a good deal of international consensus. On terrorism and Afghanistan, the US stood out from the rest. On Iraq this was much less so and average support was lower.
Comparing across countries, the gap is the largest in the case of support for Afghanistan (46 percentage points between US and the Other countries) and the smallest for Kosovo (ten percentage points difference between US and the other (non-EU and non-European countries). The war in Kosovo was relatively popular in the Other countries, while Afghanistan and the war against Terrorism were really popular only in the US. The differences among the countries produce different rank orderings of degree of support (except for the US, these differences are not large, however): Kosovo and the War against Terrorism were the most popular in Europe, and the War against Terrorism (of which 'Afghanistan' can be seen as a stage) in the US. Where Europe and the US did differ was on Iraq and Kosovo, respectively the less popular in Europe and US. In all other countries the order was different. Kosovo was the most popular (or more appropriately the least unpopular) followed by the fight against terrorism, with Iraq and Afghanistan the less popular.
Lumping the countries concerned together, especially the categories of 'Europe' and 'Other countries', hides important differences in the degree to which the public in these countries support the use of military force, in principle or in specific cases, as is shown in Table 6.3, which shows the disaggregated scores for individual countries.8 The table includes the results of the similar studies by Eichenberg (2006) and PEW (2007).9
The first observation that we can make is the huge variation in scores shown in both studies and thus the relevance of taking the contextual variables into account in our search for an explanation of support for the use of force. The availability of military power, a central or a more
Table 6.3 The geography of support for use of military force, four cases and total (in %)
Table 6.3 Continued
peripheral position in the international system, alignment or nonalignment as well as (post-)imperial traditions and aspirations are possible factors here that immediately suggest themselves.
A second observation that can be made is the degree of correlation of both studies.10 This testifies to the robustness of our findings.
For purposes of comparison, we have also added the outcomes of another multi-country study made by PEW in 2007, which is interesting because it did not measure support for the use of force in a specific historical case but instead measured agreement with the general statement that force is sometimes necessary to maintain order in the world.11 Notable here is, first of all but not surprisingly, that in most countries support for the notion that war is sometimes necessary and unavoidable in the abstract is often considerably higher than support for concrete instances (for the countries included in this table it is in the order of 25 percent on average). Publics in long-time rivals such as India (90 percent) and Pakistan (72 percent) are among the most likely to agree that military force is sometimes necessary, as are countries with hostile neighbors like Israel (76 percent).
It is also obvious that the two measurements actually probably refer to very different notions, as is shown by the very low correlations between the two types of measurement, our data and the PEW findings.12
Finally, and most important for this book, the PEW study confirms our findings, reported earlier (Chapter 3), that there is a large gap between the United States and many European countries on the use of force in general. In the US, the notion that force is sometimes necessary was supported by 77 percent in 2007, in France and the United Kingdom by 67 percent, and in Germany only by 41 percent.13
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