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Jun 052014

Transworld Paper No. 29

by Philip Everts, Pierangelo Isernia and Francesco Olmastroni

The paper compares the attitudes and preferences of American and European public opinion along four major dimensions of international security: threat perceptions, sense of community, support for Atlantic partnership and institutions, and orientation toward the use of military force.

After a retrospective overview of the relevance of foreign and security policy issues to the public, a thorough review of the existing polling data shows that Europeans and Americans have a similar structure of belief along these four dimensions. They have comparable perceptions of threats, domestic priorities and comparable perceptions of friends and allies and a strong affinity for each other. Europeans and Americans agree upon the relative distribution of power in the world and on the relative importance of economic versus military strength. Most Europeans and Americans are internationalists and Atlanticists. They share a belief in both the necessity and effectiveness of multilateral, common action and international institutions. The only area on which the differences in views seem to be more stable is on the suitability and acceptability of the use of military force, with Europeans giving a higher priority to soft tools than Americans.