Sunday, October 17, 2004

Transatlantic Views - part 3

Bush's approval on international policies (page 23) sunk to 51% in the USA, now with more strong opponents (35%) than supporters (28%). Elsewhere, strong supporters are 6% at most! (UK, Italy) Topping the European list of support (strong+moderate) for Bush's policies is the only of two instances where we can discern any sign of Poland being the big ally, but this 42% (3%+39%) is still less and less intense than oppositon (51%=15% strong + 36% weak) - a reversal since last year. Everywhere else, support of any level is capped at 30%, lowest in Spain (10%), while more than a third (in Spain and Turkey majorities: 52, 62) strongly oppose, with strong increases since last year (especially Portugal: from 25 to 49, while moderate opposition fell just 3 points to 23).

On the possibility of US-EU cooperation based on still shared values (page 24), apart from Turkey (more sceptics than optimists, but many don't-knows), optimists are in majority - but apart from Italy (74%) and the USA with its many ignorant-of-the-world-opinion Bush voters (71%), not very much - predictably, most sceptics are in the Eurosceptic-infested UK (40%) and US-sceptic France (39%) and Spain (38%).

While Americans still see Europe as the region more important to their interests than Asia (54%), while in the contrasting question which to most Europeans is a DUH! question but to Atlanticists in the political elites and the US foreign policy establishment not yet, wide European majorities see the EU as more important relationship to their countries than that with the USA: Eurosceptic Britain 57% vs. 30%, Turkey 70% vs. 11%, in most others around 80% or 90% vs. single-digit%, France top at 95%; equal importance favoured in noticeable numbers only in Slovakia (16%) and Poland (12%).

Nowhere does a majority see the USA and Europe either growing closer or further apart (page 27, 28, 29), but noticeably, the growing closer fraction is highest in Italy (48%) and, tough falling since last year, exceeds the grew-further-apart fraction on Poland, Portugal and Slovakia. On how that should further develop, only in Poland is a relative majority favoring closer relationship (44% vs. 38% for more independence), while 60% Americans would like a closer relationship again - but when Iraq is included in the question, all Europeans have majorities for more independence, and with the exception of Turkey and Poland, these majorities are absolute.

NATO is seen as still essential by majorities everywhere, absolute majorities with the exception of Slovakia (47%) - France's support is lukewarm (57%), but not much less than the USA (warming to it: 62% after 56% in 2003), while Spain (55%), Turkey (53%) and Poland (52%, down from 64%) is even cooler. (Myself, tough I voted to join NATO back in 1997, now even cooler :-) )

Surprisingly, only in Slovakia do seem many people to recognise terrorism as a job for police, not military (43% pro 40% con), elsewhere support is around 80%, topped by France and the USA with both at 92% ("surrender monkeys", heh). Not surprisingly, using the military for humanitarian help is opposed by most in the USA, but still just by a mere 16% - in the case of peacekeeping, that rises to 29%, this time topped by Poland's 31%. To stop civil war, Germans stand out with 54% in opposition (a combination of pacifism and scepticism, I guess), followed by the USA (49%) and Poland (47%), while others strongly approve. Funnily, ensuring the supply of oil is a mission supported by majorities not in the USA (44% vs. 50%, down from 65% vs. 30%) only in Europe: Turkey (69%), Portugal (57%), the UK (52%) and France (50%, up from 46%, while it was down strongly in others)! I can't explain the last one - except people weren't just thinking of regime-changing invasions. Regime change for humanitarian reasons is a good reason for majorities in many countries, highest in Turkey (64%) and Portugal (63%), and Spain (55%) and France (53%) among them too - this shows most Europeans must have realised the Iraq war was a humanitarian war only in rhetoric. Here Germany (60% opposed) bucks the trend. Preventing nuclear proliferation also gets two-thirds or more support; here I'm not at all certain the majority is wise (tough maybe there are circumstances where bombs against a nuke program work while nothing else). To defend a NATO ally, big pro majorities, but only 50% of NATO-sceptic Slovaks.

Own countries' troop presence in Afghanistan is approved by absolute majorities in Germany and France and some others, but not in Spain (relative majority), Portugal (relative majority opposed), Turkey and Poland (strong opposition), and Slovakia has a strong majority rejecting an eventual deployment.

Was Iraq worth the loss of life and other costs? Not according to absolute majorities everywhere: 50% vs. 44% pro even in the USA, more (31%) pro in the Netherlands than Britain (29%), above 70% not-worth-it everywhere else (f.e. Poland 79%). If asked as a loaded question, "war to liberate the Iraqi people", the change is funny: minor reductions (lesss than 10%) in most cases, the USA unchanged, but Turkey stronger in opposition (91% instead of 88%). The own countries' troop presence is approved in the Netherlands(!) (58% vs. 40%), the USA (57% vs. 40%) and barely in the divided UK (50% vs. 47%), but opposed elsewhere - in Poland, by 73% (with 24% approving). I wonder if the Dutch position has more to do with buying the "we can't let Iraq fail" argument [which ignores the fact that we can't prevent it from failing if it does, only push it further], or with guilt felt because of Srebrenica. The countries that din't sent troops or removed them have strong majorities behind these decisions (Turkey 71%, Spain 74%, Germany 89%, France 93%), and less strong majorities for deployment only emerge when it is a part of a UN force not under US command - Kerry doesn't have a chance to move governments against such majorities even if they could be arsed into it on their own. Majorities in Poland and Slovakia want a pullout even with a non-US-commanded UN force. Increased danger of terrorism as a result of the Iraq war is recognised by large majorities (Italy and Spain at top with 76%), except in the USA - where 49% think so against 26% daydreamers who see decrease and 20% clueless who see no change. Securing UN approval is again deemed necessary by majorities everywhere, strong majorities except the USA (58%) and Turkey (59%) - as for NATO approval, the number for the last two are about the same, the others somewhat less. Interestingly, support of the main European allies is essential to more Americans (66%) but less Turkish (52%).


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