Monday, February 7, 2005
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The state of transatlantic public opinion
Today the German Marshall Fund of the United States released a survey of American, German, and French public opinion that was conducted in late November. The results suggest that public attitudes towards the countries across the Atlantic are not great -- but at least they're improving:
The most interesting finding in the survey is the congruence between American and European attitudes about how to deal with Iran:
FULL DISCLOSURE: This seems an appropriate moment to mention that I was recently named a non-resident transatlantic fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Furthermore, "During his time with GMF, he will advise on the design and analysis of public opinion surveys on foreign policy and collaborate with the Trade and Development program on the transatlantic trade relationship." Which means that one of my responsibilities was offering my (minor) input to this survey instrument.posted by Dan on 02.07.05 at 10:54 AM
Congrats on the fellowship!
Are you taking a sabbatical in 2005-2006? I gather you'll be pursuing the Marshall duties full time next year?posted by: James Joyner on 02.07.05 at 10:54 AM [permalink]
great home page, i liked very muchposted by: wilson on 02.07.05 at 10:54 AM [permalink]
Congrats! And, of course, more data is always good (at least for my job...).posted by: Chris Lawrence on 02.07.05 at 10:54 AM [permalink]
There's a long way to go, despite whatever official pablum might be applied: A poll in a popular German newsweekly before the election showed almost 90% of respondents wanted Kerry to win.posted by: x on 02.07.05 at 10:54 AM [permalink]
Congratulations on the fellowship. You will bring some class to that outfit.
The poll seems to have underselected Bush voters. Despite that, the US sample is much more right wing and the EU sample much more left wing than the other.
Something that they did not ask: How relevant is Europe today in terms of global affairs? and then ask folks how relevant is the US/EU to the future of your country? The EU (not just France and Germany) has a huge economy and it is projecting its economic power to good effect; but its economy is stagnant and losing ground. Seriously, without a strong military to back up its view of the world, how relevant will the EU be in 20-30 years? My hope is that, secretly, the EU and US are playing "good cop-bad cop" with Iran, and they have a secret understanding to continue to do so with other threats.
It would not be hard to imagine some kind of conflict breaking out between Poland and Belarus with Belarus getting strong backing from Russia. Poland is a member of NATO and perhaps the US's strongest ally in Europe. Realistically, what could France, Germany, and Belgium do to credibly assist Poland? After what we have gone through in Iraq, which allegedly had some strategic threat to US interests, how willing would Americans be to expend blood and treasure for Poland when our 'allies' cannot or will not do anything?posted by: jim linnane on 02.07.05 at 10:54 AM [permalink]
I dislike both Chirac and Schroeder but am largely indifferent to both gentlemen - more indifferent to Schroeder than Chirac. I think that in the current climate their capacity to affect events is limited.
My feelings toward the citizens of France and Germany are similar. I think that they want the power of being the superpower but are unwilling to incur the costs in money and blood. They want the US military available to handle crisises which they find important (Bosnia and Kosovo) but otherwise wish to exercise a complete veto over the US using our military in the US national interest.
I think they feel shame at the incapacity of their national militaries to handle the Balkan crisis - and this shame makes them unable to give credit where credit is due. Or to express any gratitude at all.
I think the idea of an effective European transnational force competitive in capabilities to the US military is a good one to the degree that it creates new capacity and does not merely slap a new decal on British and NATO forces.
One's influence in military matters depends upon what one can contribute - and right now no EU military except for the UK is much use in global situations. What used to be the partnership defending Germany from the Warsaw Pact has degenerated into a nagging chorus.
Moreover, the EU outvotes the US 25 to 1 in the UN and in international treaties - which led many of them into the illusion that they ought to be able to outvote the US rather than be obliged to take much notice of US national interests and public opinion.
Over the past decade the debate was sharpened with two very one-sided treaties - Kyoto and the ICC. Kyoto required a much sharper deduction in carbon dioxide emissions for the US than for the EU. Implementation of the Kyoto treaty would probably have led to the worst recession in the US since 1932, with lesser but still catastrophic recessions in Europe.
The ICC treaty struck me as basically an offer by the EU to share the responsibilities of global security with the US. As heretofor the US would do the fighting - but the EU selflessly offered to judge our troops for war crimes afterward. Pardon me, but if it's alright with you I'd prefer to reverse the roles. You pay and bleed, we judge!
If the EU were to actually develop an effective military able to share the global security burden things would become much better for the US (and the ICC would be far more workable). The US would have a rival - but we wouldn't have to fight EVERY TIME a crisis brewed up. A competent EU military could handle Balkan conflicts with ease and could contribute to other situations. This would transmute their current opinions on how US soldiers should fight and die into a true partnership - how WE should fight and die!
If Germany had to judge it's own soldiers as well as those of the US I would have far more confidence in the understanding of German judges. Particularly German judges with personal experience of combat.posted by: Don on 02.07.05 at 10:54 AM [permalink]
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