Convergence of EU and US public opinion after 11 September 2001

Most Americans and Europeans believe that
terrorism is the most critical threat to their countries,
according to a Worldviews 2002 survey. The survey also shows
that large majorities of Europeans and Americans support the
use of military force to combat terrorism.

Worldviews 2002, a survey of how more than 9,000 Americans
and Europeans look at the world and at each other after the
terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, was
undertaken by The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and
the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The full
results will be released on 2 October.

Among the key findings of the European
report:

  • Europeans believe US foreign policy contributed to
    9/11.
  • Europeans are more critical than Americans of the
    Bush administration's handling of foreign policy.
  • Europeans, as well as Americans, give conditional
    support for an attack on Iraq.
  • Europeans and Americans share threat
    perceptions.
  • Europeans and Americans share fundamental
    worldviews.
  • Europeans and Americans share support for
    internationalism.
  • Europeans are ready to take on "superpower"
    status.
  • Europeans and Americans disagree over division of
    labor in efforts to secure global stability.
  • Europeans are as willing as Americans to use force in
    a broad range of circumstances.

Among the key findings of the US
report:

  • Terrorism troubles Americans more than any other
    problem or threat, but is not a preoccupation.
  • Public interest in world news is the strongest it has
    been in the last three decades.
  • More Americans support an active foreign policy to
    deal with a wide range of international problems.
  • Americans show high support for multilateral, rather
    than unilateral, approaches to foreign policy.
  • Americans show a readiness to use military force,
    especially to fight terrorism and when done
    multilaterally. An increased majority favors
    assassination of terrorist leaders.
  • Americans back an invasion of Iraq, but only with UN
    and allies' support.
  • Americans support greater spending on intelligence
    and homeland security; increased numbers, though still
    only a minority, support greater spending on
    defense.
  • Nonmilitary approaches to combating terrorism, such
    as working through an International Criminal Court,
    garner very high support.
  • Americans fear Islamic fundamentalism and demonstrate
    ambivalence about Muslims, but reject the inevitability
    of a "clash of civilizations."
  • Despite a high overall job performance rating for
    President Bush, a modest majority gives the Bush
    administration positive ratings on its handling of
    terrorism, and only a third do so on Iraq.

Craig Kennedy, President of GMF,
commented the survey: "Despite reports of a rift between US
and European governments, our survey finds more
similarities than differences in how the American and
European publics view the larger world. In facing a world
transformed, there is fundamental agreement regarding
friends, enemies, and the need for both the European Union
and the United States to play cooperative roles in world
affairs."

 

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