Saturday, October 16, 2004

Transatlantic Views - part 1

In the Transatlantic Trends 2004 study, based on a poll conducted by Gallup in nine EU members, Turkey and the USA, we find interesting numbers.

Right on page 8, we find something both local atlanticist elites and Kerry's advisers should take heed of: those who see strong US leadership in world affairs as very desirable is 15% at its highest - in Britain; everywhere else, including Central-Eastern Europe, that number is single-digit. Even if you add those who see strong US leadership as "somewhat desirable", we have majorities only in the Netherlands (59%) and the UK (54%), while in supposed staunch US ally Poland its 39%, in Slovakia just 21%. (Turkey - 16% - and Spain - 18% - also score well below France - 24% - on the atlanticist scale.) Also note the decline even since 2003. (And, as many American pundits raised the silly argument that Europeans don't want to engage in world affairs, see the numbers at page 7 - everywhere but in Slovakia, an active part in world affairs for their own country is supported by majorities exceeding 70%.)

As for something Europeans should take heed of - especially those who confuse Americans with their government, or even the views of deluded Bush voters with the views of Bush - US support for strong EU leadership in world affairs is still a massive 79%, and 37% even see it as very desirable - and, page 10, 41% even want the EU to become a second superpower! That's a sympathy better held to, for possible later use.

British Tories should note that 69% of the Polish and even 54% of the British want the EU to become a second superpower - only Slovakia has an anti-any-superpower majority (57%). Interestingly, there is strong difference among European countries on how increased military spending factors in support or opposition, but - to my happiness - less than 60% want an EU superpower with increased military spending in any country. Support for the US as sole power is (except for the USA, 40%) highest in Britain, still just 21%.

Surprisingly, competing with the US vs. cooperating with it is seen by the highest percentages as an advantage of an EU superpower in Spain (41%) and Slovakia (43%) - and France (36%) is outdone by the UK (37%)!

Markedly more Americans think their country spends too much on the military (38%) than those who think it spends too little (21%) - in Europe, the figures are similar, except Britain (both 28%) and Poland (19% vs. 41%!).

The recognised threat level of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism (page 16, 20 and 14) is high almost everywhere - disproving American pundits yet again; the latter is actually highest not in the USA (51% say it's 'extremely high') but Germany (59%), while in the former, the USA is even with not-yet-al-Qaida-stricken Italy (76%), and beaten by Spain (77% to 75%) when the use of WMD by terrorists is considered. The threat leavels seen are lowest in Turkey (39% and 24%) and Slovakia (63% and 31%). Interesting to note that by large parts of the population, terrorism is not equated with Islamic fundamentalism - everywhere. As for WMD sceptics, the Netherlands leads (34%) followed by Germany (27%) and Slovakia (23%).

The threat level of immigration (page 15) shows a main problem with Europe, widespread xenophobia, tough to me surprisingly, the USA is still more xenophobic than polled EU countries on the average (extremely important threat: 26% vs. 22%, not important: 28% vs. 29%). However, over the last two years, there has been marked improvement, both in the USA and the EU. Showing how inappropiate the media's over-focus on the Pim Fortuyn phenomenon was, The Netherlands still leads as least afraid of a flood immigrants (15% see an extremely important threat, 40% see a not important threat) - and the French are second (18% vs. 33%), Germany third (21% vs. 31%). Then comes Italy, the USA and the UK; while Turkey has a large number of don't-know's.

There aren't significant differences in assessing the threat posed by the Israeli-Arab conflict (page 17) or that posed by AIDS (page 18) - except the Netherlands in the latter case, with a full 28% seeing AIDS as not an important threat, and just 33% as extremely important. On the threat of an economic downturn, the Dutch and Slowaks stand out as optimists, and Portuguese as extreme pessimists, but overall, more than 80% see it as a threat of some importance - rightly so, I think.


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