Global citizenship

The German Marshall Plan Fund of the United States and Chicago Council of Foreign Relations Poll, 2002

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The German Marshall Plan Fund of the United States and Chicago Council of Foreign Relations Poll, 2002
In this poll more than 6,000 Europeans (in Great Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, and the Netherlands) and roughly 2,000 US-citizens were interviewed about their opinions about US-European relations.6 While a majority of Europeans, in contrast to US-citizens, believed that US foreign policy contributed to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and Europeans generally were more critical of the foreign policy of the Bush administration, other results of this poll demonstrate that, generally speaking, the similarities of opinions on both sides of the Atlantic are more striking than the differences. Some of the most interesting results:

It is clear that Europeans were more critical of the Bush administration's handling of foreign policy than US-Americans. Only 38% viewed its foreign policy as "excellent" or "good," 56% saying it is "fair" or "poor". But the Bush administration got much higher marks for its handling of terrorism (47% "excellent" or "good") and the war in Afghanistan (35%) than for its handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict (20%) or the situation in Iraq (21%).

These differences of opinion are even stronger when the following results about the future role of the United States and Europe as super powers are compared.

In contrast, Europeans and US-citizens mostly agreed about respective strategies against international terrorism. It is interesting to note though that more US-citizens (77 percent) proposed immigration restrictions as a remedy against terrorism than Europeans (63 percent).

US-citizens and Europeans generally also shared threat perceptions to a high degree. The greatest aberrations in their views can be found in their perception of the dangers emanating from Iraq and the development of China as a world power.

Even more interesting are the results of this poll when comparing European and US attitudes in regard to a potential war against Iraq. Contrary to the perception created by the media during 2002, the interviewees on both sides of the Atlantic came closer in their approval or disapproval whether Iraq should be attacked or not than in any other sample – with great majorities favoring UN approval. US-citizens (65 percent) came second only to the French (69 percent) in their support for an invasion only with UN approval and support of allies. Consequently, it needed more media hype as well as sexed-up threats about weapons of mass destruction in the following months.

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