Poll: Americans, Europeans Share Increased Fears of Terrorism, Islamic Fundamentalism
Five years after 9/11, Americans and Europeans
wary of Bush foreign policy; Nuclear Iran Viewed as More
Threatening than Unstable Iraq
WASHINGTON, DC, & BRUSSELS (September 6, 2006) -
With nations once again on high alert and multinational forces deployed to world
hotspots, an annual survey of American and European public opinion released
today shows both Americans and Europeans expressing shared concern over global
threats. Feelings that international terrorism is an "extremely important"
threat have intensified, with 66% of Europeans identifying it as an extremely
important threat, up from 58% last year, and 79% of Americans, up from 72%. Both
Americans (58%, up from 45%) and Europeans (52%, up from 41%) increasingly see
Islamic fundamentalism as an extremely important threat.
And just days before the fifth anniversary of the September
11, 2001, attacks, Transatlantic Trends 2006 - for the first time
in its five-year history - shows more Americans disapproving (58%) than
approving (40%) of President Bush's handling of international affairs. And
over the past five years, European disapproval of President George W. Bush's
handling of international affairs has risen dramatically (56% to 77% EU9)
, and European desire for U.S.
leadership in world affairs has dropped precipitously (from 64% to 37%
Americans and Europeans also view a nuclear Iran as a greater
threat than continued violence and instability in Iraq, with 75% of Americans
and 58% of Europeans agreeing that the threat in Iran is "extremely important,"
compared with 56% of Americans and 45% of Europeans on Iraq.
"A nuclear Iran, heightened terrorism fears, and the
Israel-Lebanon clash show there is no shortage of issues on the transatlantic
docket," said Craig Kennedy, President of the German Marshall Fund of the United
States. "It's clear from our survey that Americans and Europeans continue
to feel strongly - and increasingly similarly - about those threats that most
fundamentally affect our security. And with a majority of Americans for the
first time joining Europeans in disapproving of President Bush's handling of
international affairs, the U.S. can not afford to go it alone politically or
diplomatically on global challenges."
Transatlantic Trends 2006 - a project of the
German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo in
Turin, Italy, with additional support from the Fundação Luso-Americana
(Portugal), the Fundación BBVA (Spain), and the Tipping Point Foundation
(Bulgaria) - measures broad public opinion in the United States and 12 European
countries and gauges the pulse of transatlantic relations. For the fifth
consecutive year, participants were asked their views on each other, as well as
on global threats, foreign policy objectives, world leadership, multilateral
institutions, civil liberties, and the European Union.
TRANSATLANTIC PULSE: EUROPEANS COOL TO
Transatlantic Trends is designed to gauge the
pulse of U.S.-European relations. For the first time since the survey began in
2002, Europeans' (EU9) warmth of feeling toward the U.S., on a 100-point
"thermometer," is a lukewarm 51 degrees. Forty-six percent of Americans feel the
transatlantic relationship has gotten worse in the last year, and the highest
percentage of Europeans (41%) feel it has stayed the same. A majority of
Europeans (55%, EU9) support a more independent approach to security and
diplomatic affairs between the U.S. and the European Union (compared to 50% in
2004). The largest percentage of Americans wants closer relations, but this has
dropped from 60% in 2004 to 45%.
IRAN THREATENING, DIVERGENCE ON
Seventy-nine percent of Americans and 84% of Europeans (EU9)
agree that efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons should
continue, with only 15% of Americans and 5% of Europeans who see military action
as the best option. If non-military options fail, 53% of Americans who
support efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons would support
military action, compared with 45% of Europeans (EU9). Fifty-four percent
of French respondents, though, would support military action if non-military
options fail. Democrats and Republicans agree that efforts to prevent Iran
from acquiring nuclear weapons should continue but disagree should non-military
options fail - just 41% of Democrats but 70% of Republicans would support
military action under these circumstances.
SUPPORT FOR EU ENLARGEMENT
Sixty-three percent of Europeans (EU9) agree that further
enlargement of the European Union will help it play a more important role in
world affairs, and 62% agree that further enlargement will promote peace and
democracy along its borders. Sixty-five percent of Europeans (EU9) support
the creation of a European Union foreign minister, one of the key reforms put
forth in the proposed constitutional treaty.
"The overall picture of the European public opinion emerging
from this year's survey seems to contradict the current view of a growing
skepticism, among Europe's citizens, about further EU integration," said Piero
Gastaldo, Secretary General of the Compagnia di San Paolo. "The fact that a
large majority of the interviewed are in favor of creating an EU foreign
minister position is particularly striking - it is both a reason for optimism
and a serious challenge for the European and national institutions and for those
independent subjects, like foundations, that are committed to promote the
involvement of citizens in the integration process and the development of an
actual European identity."
BROAD TRANSATLANTIC AGREEMENT ON CIVIL LIBERTIES
Majorities of Americans and Europeans oppose greater
governmental authority to monitor citizens' telephone calls (59% for both
continents) but support greater authority to monitor communications on the
Internet (54% for both) and install surveillance cameras in public places (78%
Europe, 71% U.S.). The two sides disagree about greater authority to monitor
banking transactions (50% of Europeans support, 58% of Americans oppose).
Majorities of Democrats oppose greater government authority to monitor telephone
calls, communications on the Internet, and citizens' banking transactions, all
of which are supported by a majority of Republicans.
Other Key Findings of Transatlantic Trends
Support for democracy promotion softening in
U.S.: When asked whether they feel it should be the role of
the European Union to help establish democracy in other countries, 71% of
Europeans (EU9) agreed, a figure nearly unchanged from 2005. Forty-five
percent of Americans agreed when asked if it should be the role of the United
States, a decline of seven percentage points from last year. As in 2005,
breakdown by U.S. party affiliation shows a strong partisan divide, with only
35% of Democrats agreeing compared to 64% of Republicans. These
percentages reflect declines in support in both parties, minus-eight percentage
points among Democrats and minus-12 percentage points among
Incompatibility between Islam and democracy due to
particular Islamic groups: Fifty-six percent of Americans and Europeans do
not feel that the values of Islam are compatible with the values of their
democracy, but 60 % on both sides of the Atlantic agree that the problem is with
particular Islamic groups, not Islam in general. Sixty-six percent of
Democrats and 59% of Republicans also agree that particular Islamic groups are
Turkey cooling, shifting: Since 2004, Turkey has
cooled toward the United States and Europe but has warmed toward Iran.
Turkish "warmth" toward the United States declined from 28 in 2004 to 20 in 2006
on a 100-point "thermometer," and from 52 to 45 toward the European Union.
Over the same period, Turkish warmth toward Iran rose from 34 to 43.
Younger Turks, however, have warmer feelings toward both the United States and
European Union, with a thermometer reading among 18- to 24-year-olds above the
Turkish averages at 27 toward the United States and 48 toward the European
Union. While majorities of Turkish respondents continue to see EU
membership as a good thing, the percentage of Turkish citizens who see Turkey's
membership as a good thing has fallen each year from 73% in 2004 to 54% in
2006. When asked whether Turkey's membership in the European Union would
be a good thing, a bad thing, or neither good nor bad, the largest percentage of
Europeans continue to feel it would be neither good nor bad (40%, unchanged
since 2004). Among those who have an opinion, however, those who see
Turkey's membership as a good thing have fallen from 30% in 2004 to 21% in 2006,
and those who see Turkey's membership as a bad thing have grown from 20% in 2004
to 32% in 2006.
NATO support declining, EU military role debated:
European support for NATO remains positive overall but has declined from 69%
in 2002 (EU9) to 55% in 2006, with large declines in countries traditionally
perceived as strong supporters of NATO - Germany, Italy, Poland, and
Turkey. Forty-six percent of EU citizens (EU9) feel the EU should
strengthen its military power to play a larger role in the world, and just 42%
of EU citizens agree that the European Union should use military force if it
goes against their own country's interests.
China threatening: When asked to rate their
feelings of warmth toward China on a 100-point "thermometer" scale, Americans
and Europeans rate China virtually identically (46 degrees to 45 degrees).
But 38% of Americans, compared with 27% of Europeans, feel that the rise of
China is an "extremely important threat" in the next ten years. In the
United States, the largest percentage of respondents is more concerned by the
threat posed by growing Chinese military power (35%), while in Europe, the
largest percentage of respondents is more concerned by the threat posed by the
growing Chinese economy (37%). Among Europeans, the highest perception of
the threat of the Chinese economy is in France (53%), Portugal (52%), and Italy
(51%). Within the United States, Democrats are more concerned about the
economic (37%) than military threat (28%), and Republicans are more concerned
about the military (42%) than economic threat (21%).
TNS Opinion conducted the survey and collected the data from
the United States and twelve European countries: Germany, France, Great Britain,
Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Romania, and
Bulgaria. Interviews were conducted by telephone using CATI (Computer
Assisted Telephone Interviews) in all countries except Poland, Slovakia, Turkey,
Bulgaria, and Romania (where lower telephone penetration necessitates
face-to-face interviews), between June 6 and June 24, 2006. In each country, a
random sample of approximately 1,000 men and women, 18 years of age and older
were interviewed. The margin of error is plus/minus 3 percentage
 All data refer to the 12 European
countries surveyed (E12) - Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands,
Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria - unless
otherwise noted. EU9 refers to current EU members.
... Payvand News - 9/8/06 ... --