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September 16, 2010 |  21 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

Editorial Team

The Limited Power of Presidential Popularity

Editorial Team: President Obama’s popularity in Europe does not translate into more support for US policies. According to Transatlantic Trends 2010 differences in public opinion remain on Iran and Afghanistan. Europeans are much more pessimistic than Americans regarding the ISAF mission, but they share US support for NATO being prepared to act outside of Europe.

President Obama is still viewed more positively in Europe than in the United States, and continues to be much more popular than President George W. Bush. A popular US president might be a necessary first step toward transatlantic convergence on how to address key security issues, but it is clearly not sufficient in itself. While nearly four in five Europeans approved of Obama's handling of international policies in general, fewer than half of Europeans responded positively when asked specifically about his handling of Afghanistan and Iran.

Quotes from the Transatlantic Trends 2010 survey, released today by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).

Waning optimism on Afghanistan, but NATO remains a popular alliance:

As in previous years, the United States was the only country where a slight majority of respondents (51%) felt optimistic about stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, down five points from 2009. At the same time, only about one-quarter of EU respondents (23%) felt the same optimism, down nine points from last year.

A majority of EU respondents (64%) thought that their country should either reduce or withdraw troops, while only 41% of U.S. respondents felt the same, though that was still up from 30% in 2009. The United States was the only country in which a majority supported maintaining or increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. (...)

Despite growing weary of the war in Afghanistan, majorities or pluralities in all countries surveyed still supported NATO being prepared to act outside of Europe. Large majorities in the United States (77%) and the EU (62%) said that NATO should be prepared to act outside of Europe to defend members from threats to their security.

Shared concern about Iran, but different responses:

The overwhelming majority of American (86%) and EU (79%) respondents were somewhat or very concerned about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. Only in Turkey (48%) was a plurality of respondents concerned only a little or not at all.

To prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, a plurality of EU respondents (35%) preferred offering economic incentives, while a plurality of Americans (40%), regardless of political preference, favored economic sanctions. Roughly twice as many Americans (25%) as EU respondents (13%) favored providing support to the opposition of the current government in Tehran.

Zsolt Nyiri and Ben Veater-Fuchs of the German Marshall Fund conclude:

Working with an immensely popular American president is unlikely to provide sufficient political cover for European leaders to continue their commitment in Afghanistan against such clear public preferences [against the ISAF mission] in their own countries. Germany is the quintessential example of how a high level of US presidential approval by the German public masks a very genuine division about real issues. Despite an 87% approval rate for Obama's general handling of international policies, only 40% approve of his handling of Afghanistan, and 67% would like to see German troops reduced or withdrawn altogether. German optimism about stabilizing Afghanistan was halved from last year to 10%-the lowest in the survey.


Dear members of atlantic-community.org


Do you consider the transatlantic differences indicated in this survey to be significant or even troubling? Or is cooperation between the United States and European countries less dependent on public opinion?

The Transatlantic Trends survey calls the gap between the relatively low European approval for US policies and the president's high personal popularity the "Obama Puzzle." Do you find this puzzling? Or was it to be expected that Obama-mania was just hype without significant lasting effects for increased transatlantic cooperation?

What - if anything - should be done to strengthen the common transatlantic agenda?

ENDNOTE: Last year, the Atlantic Initiative, publisher of atlantic-community.org presented the Transatlantic Trends 2009 survey, which already indicated "Lots of Love for Obama, Less for US Policy."

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Tags: | Turkey | Iran | Poland | GMF | Obama | survey | public opinion | Germany |
 
Comments
Greg Randolph Lawson

September 15, 2010

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"The Obama Puzzle" is no real mystery. Interests are much more relevant in international relations than personalities. Certainly, personality can play a limited role, but this is typically at the margin.

If European publics have serious questions about American policies or interests, the issue of their relative like or dislike of the President is of very little practical importance.

The issues that tie the U.S. and Europe together into the "Atlantic Partnership" are still relevant, but, as I have argued with respect to NATO, more circumscribed than the past due to the relative rise of Asia and the relative weakening of what is generally considered the "West."

Americans and Europeans still care about European stability.

Americans and Europeans still care about a constructive relationship with Russia that acknowledges the need for some degree of hedging based upon differing interests and threat perceptions.

Americans and Europeans still care about having strong trading partners on either side of the Atlantic.

Americans and Europeans still care about general human rights issues around the world even if both sometimes talk more about them than act to preserve the,.

Americans and Europeans still care about having free, relatively liberal societies in comparison to authoritarian regimes. Though there is a discrepancy between the more Burkean, classical liberal concepts of America and the social democratic leanings of many in Europe, there remains more in common than different.

As for whether those areas where there is divergence being serious, they are, but not so serious as to create an overwhelming and permanent rift between America and Europe. It is probably true that America's attention will continue its shift of primary focus from Europe (as in many ways it has already done) and even from the Middle East and towards East Asia. However, in the wake of coming challenges, a strong regional relationship between the Europeans and America may once again become integral to global order depending on the trajectory of economics and geopolitics in East Asia.

Consequently, America and Europe will remain relatively close even if they are far from the best of friends.
 
Claudiu Dan Degeratu

September 15, 2010

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GMF many thanks for the study, extremely welcome.

The title of the Section Three: "A Continuing Divide on Transatlantic Security" is not very optimistic I must say. But at the end of the chapter there are two conclusions which are far more optimistic.

p. 18: "One of the most deeply rooted transatlantic value differences can be found in general attitudes toward the use of military force. While Americans (77%) and EU respondents (71%) continued to feel they share enough common values to work together on international problems, when asked whether they agree that war is necessary to obtain justice under some circumstances, three-quarters of Americans (77%) and only one-quarter of EU respondents (27%) agreed."

My comment

Personally, I prefer not to compare directly the issue of common transatlantic values (a fundamental dimension of the transatlantic model) with attitudes towards the use of military force (a more contingent-contextual dimension). I prefer to compare the attitudes towards the transatlantic values with the perceptions towards the division of labor among US and EU, and we might have another perspective and far more understandable.

p.18."On the other hand, despite these differences, this year’s results show a convergence in European and American attitudes about importance of economic power vis--vis military power. As in past years, Europeans polled (86%) responded that economic power is more important in world
affairs than military power. This year, a similarly strong majority of Americans (78%) agreed with this statement, compared to 61% in 2009."

My comment

I think, this is a very Big "+" in the study and for the transatlantic agenda. In comparison with the use of force issue, the convergent perceptions on economic power will be an important tool for achieving more common political will. It should be consider as one of the strongest messages for our political leaders.
Tags: | Transatlantic Trends | study |
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

September 16, 2010

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The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) may be “non-partisan”, it is definitely a Lobby in the purest sense of the word. As principal for the poll leading to Transatlantic Trends, it - as a matter of course - tells the market research firm what it wants to know. In other words, it formulates the questions. While “TNS opinion” is an authoritative name in the market, it is also a commercial enterprise. Consequently, it is unlikely that it has questioned the questions to be submitted to respondents, or volunteered additional or different questions.

One can prove just about anything with statistics, even straight lies. Telephone interviews are not the best research method (especially about complex "world matters" which can hardly be put in context during a telephone conversation) and a sample of 1,000 pretty small. Phrasing of the questions is an extremely delicate matter and so is the interpretation of the results. As the poll is repeated year on year, it may give interesting trends in shifting attitudes if the questions remain identical, but one should avoid attaching much value to absolute percentages.

One element merits particular attention: Iran’s nuclear program. The research on this key issue is clearly superficial. Surely, should respondents have been questioned about the right of Israel, a non-subscriber to the nuclear NPT, to have nuclear weapons in the Middle East, in relation to NPT subscriber Iran as a potential nuclear power to deter any aggression against it with conventional arms, the outcome would have been completely different.

With this important detail in mind, I also tend to attach little value to the preparedness of European respondents to support NATO missions outside of Europe, given the experience in Afghanistan.
 
Felix F. Seidler

September 16, 2010

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Obama is not a messias, rather a normal politician. Though thinks said and done differ significantly. Obama talks about a nuclear free world, but his government invests 80 billion Dollars in the modernization of nuclear warheads (B61) and pursues the plannings to replace the Ohio-Class SSBN after 2020.

50.000 US soldiers stay in Iraq. The US will keep Bagram Air Force after 2014. Even if the number of detainees in Guantanamo decreases, the `Black Site´ on Bagram still exists.

Though, Obama know how to play the `charismatic leader´ card. But `Realpolitik´ speaks for itself. And people percept that.

I consider the short term trends in public opnion not as important. We always had such events: 1968 & Vietnam War, NATO´s dual track policy in the 1980´s, Iraq War, etc.

Critical is the long term consensus, that US and Europeans need each other as friends and partners. I cannot see this consesus endangered.

Youth exchanges between the US and European countries are a useful mean. Those programms are doing well today and should be intensified.

On the political level elites on both sides of the Atlantic should rethink their status. Europeans have to accept not being the center of the world´s attention any more.

Furthermore, Europeans, who always consider themselves to have the moral superiority, will have to deal with other values rising (Chinese, Indian, Islamic, etc.). Same is with the US.

Politicians should stop the efforts to distinguish themselves by blaming the other side of the Atlantic.
 
Eoin  Michael  Heaney

September 16, 2010

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Thank you everyone for your comments so far.

Greg, considering that many Europeans and Americans share the same perception of common threats, and taking into account the idea that the United States and Europe are divided by their unique historical foundations, do you think that the classical liberal/social democratic dichotomy affects the views of foreign policy to such an extent that a strengthening of the common agenda is unlikely? Have we reached the highest level of cooperation we can achieve?

Claudiu, good point regarding the fact that the use of force is always context dependent and thus an unreliable benchmark. Nevertheless, do you not think that the division of labour between the US and Europe would remain a problem as long as the two are engaged in mutual security initiatives under the guise of NATO or otherwise, regardless of whether the economic dimension is pushed?

Paul-Robert, valid point regarding the difficulties presented by the methodology involved in the survey. However, it is unclear where the direct connection is between the ommission of a question regarding Israel's right to possess nuclear weaponry and the claim that the finding that a majority of Europeans support the future actions of NATO outside Europe is suspect.

Felix, very interesting point regarding the rise of different kinds of values. Considering that Europeans and indeed Americans have often considered themselves to be morally 'right' and driven by a similar values system (with notable exceptions such as support for the death penalty), do you see this as the primary unifying factor between the two? If so, should this aspect of the relationship be pushed, or is moralizing best left out of international politics?


In effect, what exactly can be done to build upon common Transatlantic interests, if anything at all?
Tags: | Transatlantic Trends |
 
Felix F. Seidler

September 16, 2010

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There are three unifying factors for the transatlantic partners. First of all, we have the common history. The US-British relationship highlights the importance of this factor very well. As historic lesson and, therefore second point, we have the common interest of a Euro-Atlantic area of Peace, Freedom and Prosperity. Hereon, democratic societies are the third factor.

Politics is always normative, though moralizing cannot be left out of international politics. But for example, US and European state and non-state actors tried to tell the Africans how to organize their governments and societies. Now we have the Chinese involved with huge numbers of money and staff in a lot of African countries. Though, US and Europeans have to ask themselves, why should any African government listen to what they try to tell them? The Chinese are sending money and support without asking for any ethical values. More pragmatism is need, because our decision makers are not the ones any more to sit on a high chair and have the say.
 
Greg Randolph Lawson

September 16, 2010

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In response to Mr. Heaney:

I do not think that the classical liberal/social democratic dichotomy will impact the US-European views of foreign policy much more than it already has. So there will be a common agenda on certain key security issues for Europe itself and probably somewhat on trade over time. The agenda will probably not be strengthened all that much from where it currently stands, but neither should it decline too much as those interests will remain important irrespective of disagreements over domestic issues.

With that in mind, there will continue to be a convergence on fears relative to Russian resurgence especially if any signs of Russian aggression should the manifest themselves. There will continue to be much sharing of intelligence to prevent transnational terror cells from freely operating and plotting attacks from European territory (and to a far more limited extent other regions). There will also, I think be opportunities for enhanced trade relations in order to retain competitiveness with East Asia. There will probably also be marginal cooperation in the wake of major humanitarian (and largely natural as opposed to "man made") disasters.

These shared interests are real and should form enough of a foundation for a cooperative relationship that we will not see a fundamental breakup. However, the high water mark for cooperation was clearly during the Cold War and it is difficult to envision cooperation being as solid or as existentially necessary in this era.

So, there will be continual hiccups in the relationship. Both sides should remain rather pleased to have a workable relationship 10 years from now that is not all that different from today, with the possible exception of enhanced trade, as in a possible free trade zone, depending on East Asian concerns.
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

September 16, 2010

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Mr. Heaney: in your reaction of today’s date, while addressing Mr Lawson you say “considering that many Europeans and Americans share the same perception of common threats”. Scrutinizing Atlantic Trends 2010, I just found two references to the issue of threats:

“Large majorities in the United States (77%) and the EU (62%) said that NATO should be prepared to act outside of Europe to defend members from threats to their security.”

and

“In fact, large majorities in the EU (62%) and the United States (77%) — the highest of any country surveyed — said that NATO should be prepared to act outside of Europe to defend members from threats to their security.”

Where did you read about perceptions of threats of Americans and Europeans? This is a very interesting question, as it will also play in the November discussions on NATO’s new strategy.

As regards your reply to my previous comment, I did not mention any “difficulties presented by the methodology involved in the survey”. Not having seen the way the questions were formulated and what questions were asked exactly, I questioned the validity of the outcome of the survey. I did not connect the Iran issue with “future actions of NATO outside Europe”, I just questioned the validity of the outcome of the latter issue, given the questionable quality of the research and the hard fact that Europeans are fed up with any military deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If decision makers must decide on matters of war and peace and are interested in what their populations feel about these issues, they better make absolutely sure that the surveys they commission are reliable, and even with that in hand, realize that outcomes of opinion polls are very relative.
 
Kazimierz  Wiesak

September 17, 2010

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General comment.

I read zillions of poll results in the media. I wonder why media almost never report "raw data" about polls, that is the actual questions being asked with the list of all possible answers to choose from. And then what percent of respondents chose each answer. Such a report would be informative and valuable. Unfortunately, media report only their own descriptions of poll results but never the actual results of the polls. Same for Transatlantic Trends 2010. Why we are not informed about the actual questions being asked, with the list of all possible answers to each question, and then what percent of respondents chose each answer.

Pollsters ask randomly selected people. If randomly selected people are able to understand the pollsters' questions and answers, then readers of polls must be able to understand them also. So the reason to provide only descriptions of poll results and hide the raw data must lie somewhere else.
 
Claudiu Dan Degeratu

September 17, 2010

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Kazimierz,
please have a look here, I do not have any doubts about methodology.

http://www.gmfus.org/trends/2010/toplinedata.html

Look for the link- Topline Data in English
Tags: | Transatlantic Trends |
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

September 17, 2010

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Thank you, Claudiu Dan Degeratu, for the link to the details of the survey. I now found the questions pertaining to the Iran issue.

Q17 was worded as follows:

“As you may know, negotiations to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons are under way. There are different ways to address Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons. Which of the following do you think is the best option?”

Respondents could just choose from the following answers:

1. Offer economic incentives to Iran in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons
2. Impose economic sanctions
3. Provide support to opponents of the current government in Iran
4. Take military action against Iran
5. Accept that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons

The following obvious answers were missing:

1. Eliminate Iran’s need of a nuclear deterrent by declaring that neither the US nor Israel will engage in a war of aggression against Iran
2. As per [Egyptian] president Mubarrak’s proposal, arrange for a Middle East free of nuclear arms, incl. those of Israel, and persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions by patient diplomacy

With these (additional) options open to respondents, Q18:

“And now imagine that all of these non-military options have been tried and the only option left to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is the use of military force. In that case, should the [European Union\ United States] take military action against Iran, or should [it/they] simply accept that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons?”

would have been fully redundant.

It is interesting to see how utterly and totally (mis)leading Q17 is:

• it is not true that “negotiations to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons are under way”
• the five “non-military options” under Q17 do clearly not [automatically] lead to “the only option left to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons”: “the use of military force”.

To any serious market researcher, this renders the “conclusions” of this enquiry heavily biased and hence of no value. Politicians and decision makers should draw the same conclusions. One must question the purpose of this research.
 
Claudiu Dan Degeratu

September 17, 2010

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Welcome, Paul-Robert Lookman,
Now I understand better your view.

shot comments if I may;


Your proposal "1. Eliminate Iran’s need of a nuclear deterrent by declaring that neither the US nor Israel will engage in a war of aggression " it is nothing more than the option " 5. Accept that Iran could acquire nuclear weaponsagainst Iran".

The act o declaration is an official recognition of the Iran's right to acquire nukes. Btw it contains also a reference to Israel which is not Included in the question.
Of course we can build a separate question about Israel per se, but this is another discussion, the same for Russia, the same for France, etc. so it is a never ending story. To keep this story simple we have to measure by options something for a single unit/player or to make correlations between different results from different questions.
If we change the question to reflect a dyadic/triadic relations between US/Israel/Iran this is something else.
So we cannot include in the scale something which is consider by a social scientist as undefined external variable, as US and Israel or Mubarrak, simply because the statement/question does not contain a reference to those variables.

Your proposal "2. As per [Egyptian] president Mubarrak’s proposal, arrange for a Middle East free of nuclear arms, incl. those of Israel, and persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions by patient diplomacy."

I have the same position and also contains a vague concept "patient diplomacy" impossible to be transformed into an operationalized concept. If you ask a Chinese ? or an Italian about patient diplomacy you might have nice answers but not very useful.

Sometimes I enjoy methodology, but just sometimes. :)
Why? because I know that if I want to measure something in social sciences we have to respect the first principle: keep it simple and measure one thing every time.
The second principle is really nice: every extra question costs more.

Tags: | Transatlantic Trends |
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

September 17, 2010

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Claudiu Dan Degeratu: I did of course not word my proposed questions in a ready-for-research format. To make the exercise, as a researcher I would have replaced the first two possible answers to Q17 by:

1 Offer a non-aggression pact to Iran in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons
2 Persuade Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions

Simple, understandable by any respondent. And no extra cost. Without these options, the question is (mis)leading and flawed.

If you have looked into http://www.gmfus.org/trends/2010/toplinedata.html, you will agree that this research is neither “simple” nor about “one thing”. This covers complex issues on international politics with which the interviewer surprises the respondent. Which respondent has reasonable knowledge about these issues? And who is cold-blooded enough under these circumstances to recognize leading questions?

These least a serious researcher should have done is add a number of "round table" discussions (qualitative research) per country, headed by an experienced interviewer (ideally a psychologist) to elaborate in depth the complex issues raised. To put the outcome of the quantative research in perspective.
 
Joerg  Wolf

September 17, 2010

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@ Claudiu,

Thank you for sharing some interesting information from deep inside the report.

I also had a closer reading of the Transatlantic Trends report and has been wondering about the significance of the declining support for NATO.

"While there was majority support for NATO this year, looking at long-term trends, support for NATO has decreased over the years. In 2002, around seven-in-ten EU respondents (69%) felt NATO was essential. In some cases, the decline was dramatic; for example 74% of the Germans said NATO was essential for their country’s security in 2002, but only 56% felt that way in 2010. Similarly, 68% of Italians felt NATO was essential in 2002, but only 54% felt so this year."

Can NATO survive as a meaningful and well-equipped military alliance if so many people don't consider it essential?


@ Felix,

You expressed skepticism regarding short term trends. I was wondering what you make of this trend on NATO support. Is a period of eight years a short term or a long term trend?

@ Claudiu, Felix,
I hope you don't mind that I addressed you by the first name. Like my colleague Eoin Heaney, we like to promote some community spirit and go by the first name. I think respectful academic discourse works does not suffer from an impersonal address.
 
Joerg  Wolf

September 17, 2010

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@ Paul-Robert,

I agree with your statement: "I also tend to attach little value to the preparedness of European respondents to support NATO missions outside of Europe, given the experience in Afghanistan."

It seems to me that many people tend to express more support if a request or question is phrased in very general and abstract terms and concerns the future (like NATO missions outside of Europe), but when you get more specific and concrete and refer to the presence (support for ISAF), then people decline support. I guess, this holds true to both big politics and personal relations..

Thus I am glad, that the atlantic-community.org debate re NATO's new strategic concept has lead to the policy recommendation: "Align the scope of the Alliance with its capabilities. The Alliance should focus its operations on the European region..." See here
http://www.atlantic-community.org/index/articles/view/NATO_for_the_...

I think this is recommendation is also supported by the Transatlantic Trends survey. Missions outside of Europe should remain the exception.

We are currently working on a consensus to match this recommendation with the call for more global partnership. I don't think the two recommendations contradict each other. I will work on our draft.

Felix,
Greg,

Additional input would be appreciated as well. THANK YOU.
http://www.atlantic-community.org/index/articles/view/NATO_for_the_...

 
Felix F. Seidler

September 17, 2010

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Yes, I am sceptic about short term trends. My definition of trends is: short term: 0-6 years, middle term: 7-12 years. long term: 13+ years. I am always sceptic of short term trends because they can change so easily. For example, people can hype particular parties or policies. And after few months or years things have changed absolutly. Look at Germany`s Free Democratic Party from September 2005/2009 till now.

The declining support for NATO from 69 to 59 % (p.17) is a serious issue. Cause is the war in Afghanistan and Bush´s `War on Terror´ as whole. NATO to long ignored the importance of public diplomacy.

This middle term trend could become a long term trends, if NATO is not able to name its purpose clearly in StratCon2010. But NATO is on the right track. The Alliance´s public diplomacy is becoming better. NATO´s facebook page´s positiv development shows this well: http://www.facebook.com/www.nato.int
 
Kazimierz  Wiesak

September 18, 2010

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@ Claudiu,

Thank you very much for the link.

As the follow up discussion has shown, it is informative and valuable to know:
1. the exact question being asked,
2. the list of possible answers,
3. what percent of respondents chose each answer.

This allows for better understanding of the results.
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

September 18, 2010

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Joerg Wolf: glad to see our concurrence on "... the preparedness of European respondents to support NATO missions outside of Europe…". A bold statement from an Atlantic Community editor, as it implicitly confirms your rejection of a key finding of Transatlantic Trends 2010: “Europeans … share US support for NATO being prepared to act outside of Europe”. One must see the value of opinion polls in perspective, especially if they concern complex issues such as international politics. I am sure that the average respondent feels extremely uncomfortable if abruptly telephoned and hurriedly questioned by a complete stranger on complex issues which need considerable thought.

On a predominantly conservative platform as Atlantic Community, I kept away from the NATO debate, but felt compelled to support Ari Rusila’s contribution of 30 August. And even Mr Rusila’s dissident views could not provoke serious debate other than a wrongful accusation that he argued for getting “rid of NATO”, by the same member who saw “another faulty attempt to malign the person and policies of the President of the United States of America” in my review of Howard Zinn’s "A People's History of the United States" (see heading “Book reviews”). In my view, the NATO debate was dominated by a few ardent NATO “old style” supporters. I have seen preciously little real debate where contributors reacted to arguments, ready to learn from other contributions, sharpening each other's minds, contributed to “intellectual cross-pollination”.

I have missed one key element in the NATO debate: today’s perceived threats. Only Ari Rusila devoted a paragraph “Threats Today and in the Near Future” in his article, which unfortunately could not provoke any reaction. In the current debate, your colleague Eoin Michael Heaney did refer to shared perceptions of common threats, but so far declined to elaborate on the pertinent question I put to him on the subject. In my view, the premises for NATO's new strategic concept should not be “its capabilities” but rather the perceived threats that it has to cope with. With even a small commercial enterprise drawing up its corporate strategy on the basis of a solid SWOT analysis, surely an organization like NATO with a budget of billions of dollars should do so. And where “missions outside of Europe should remain the exception”, perhaps the policy recommendation should include a pledge that NATO will never initiate acts of aggression and will abide by international law as per the UN Charter.

Surely you have heard of the Spinelli Group (http://www.spinelligroup.eu/), which pursues a federal Europe. The group is an initiative of heavyweight European politicians such as Jacques Delors, Mario Monti, Joschka Fischer, Pat Cox, Danute Hubner, Gesine Schwann, Andrew Duff, Elmar Brok, Daniel Cohn Bendit, and - last but not least - former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, currently President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, who explicitly pursues a European army. See “Verhofstadt: Europees leger noodzakelijk” (http://www.rnw.nl/nederlands/article/verhofstadt-europees-leger-noo...). I feel these ideas will play a role at NATO’s Lisbon meeting November, more than the outcome of a questionable survey such as European Trends 2010. The Lisbon result could well be a reduced NATO with a limited scope, based on realistic estimates of threats.
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

September 19, 2010

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Correction: please read “Transatlantic Trends 2010” instead of “European Trends 2010” in the penultimate line of my contribution of 18/9/2010.
 
Unregistered User

September 22, 2010

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What I find fascinating about the survey is this:

Transatlantic differences on the rise of China and India:
Seven-in-ten respondents (71%) in America found it very likely that China will exert strong leadership in the future, while only a third of Europeans (34%) thought the same scenario is very likely. Nevertheless, EU respondents (31%) were somewhat more likely than Americans (21%) to describe their relations with China as good. When asked about India, the majority of EU respondents (54%) thought it was unlikely that the world’s most populous democracy will exert strong leadership in world affairs five years from now, while 74% of Americans believed that India was likely to play a leading role. ]…]
Around half of Americans (53%) agreed that the United States has enough common values with China to be able to cooperate on international problems. In stark contrast, almost two-thirds of European respondents (63%) agreed that China and Europe have such different values that cooperating on international problems is impossible.
Fewer than 20% of US and EU respondents said that China plays a positive role in managing global conflicts, fighting poverty in the world, or fighting climate change.
 
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October 8, 2010

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With all said and done on all themes in question returning to Felix's concern about 'realpolitik' is to me inevitable. On both sides of the Atlantic, we are witnesses of how that is playing itself out. At the same time, it is best conjectured [paradoxically though] within the framework of our most trusted concept 'democracy'. The problem therefore is, most leaders might mean well with their words and try to match them in concrete actions and or responses - something that, were they 'dictatorial' could easily push through] but relatively impossible in a democracy. It is possible to say that realpolitik is time-consuming in democracy and therefore, many leaders who otherwise mean well are preyed and often eventually vulnerable to blames. Its problem can be studied historically and empirically with instructive bearings on NATO, and in that way some form of comparative knowledge about the effect(s) of realpolitik can be developed in new ways advancing understanding and how to chat informed perspectives about solutions.

The speed of decision-making over complex interactions, more-so in a turning age with the type of over-crowded 'intra/transnational' demands seen, is bound to be slow hence irritate in different ways. And that is particularly troubling with the scale of threats seen on the fronts of insurgency, conflicts, slowing economic life and increasing environmental uncertainties. All fit in as signs of regional and global disorder. Making singular or integrative sense of all these within the frame of transatlantic co-operation, by way of regular opinion surveys is refreshing as active method of keeping informed track of progress. And yet because of the nature of the international politics we seen, there are spillovers and that, of-course, is no little challenge as NATO also turns global beyond the transatlantic circle. Realpolitik must be studied more in the hope of showing that adversarial politics will only quench and delay expectations as well as relatively timely solutions to most of our immediate problems home and in the world.
 

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