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Polls on Iran, the US and Iraq

Foreign Policy has a Valentine Day's special Who do you love? based on opinion polls conducted for the BBC World Service. If you haven't registered for free and don't care for the graphics with sweat little hearts, you can access the polls at the University of Maryland's PIPA, which was involved in conducting the 40,000 interviews in 33 countries. The results on Iran's popularity:
On average across the 33 countries just 18 percent say Iran is having a positive influence while 47 percent say Iran is having a negative influence. Countries in Europe and North America have the largest majorities expressing a negative view of Iran. The most negative are Germany (84%), the US (81%), and Italy (77%); followed by Finland (74%), Great Britain (72%), Canada (73%), France (68%), Spain (66%) and Poland (60%).
On the United States:
Within Europe there has been a hardening of negative attitudes toward America compared to a year ago. Those expressing a negative view have risen in France (from 54% to 65%), and Great Britain (50% to 57%) (...) Interestingly, no more Iranians were negative about the US role in the world than Germans or French (each with 65% negative).
Regarding the support for military options on Iran if diplomacy fails, opinion polls in the US and in Germany produce contradictory results for both countries:
 
The Los Angeles Times asked Americans: "If Iran continues to produce material that can be used to develop nuclear weapons, would you support or oppose the U.S. taking military action against Iran?" 57% said they would support, while 33% said they would oppose. However, when ABC News asked "To try to prevent Iran from developing nuclear technology, would you support or oppose the United States bombing Iran's nuclear development sites?", only 42% of the US respondents said they would support, while 54% said they would oppose. Both polls are cited in the Polling Report.
The National Review Online refers to a poll in Europe:
If it emerges that Iran is on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon, more Europeans are ready to support limited NATO military strikes than those who wish to oppose strikes no matter what. Again, the data show a split in Germany (46 percent in favor, 45 percent against), but in the U.K., France, and Austria the public is clearly persuaded: 45 percent to 26 percent in the U.K., 51 percent to 40 percent in Austria, and 74 percent to 20 percent in France. (hat tip American Future)
However, the Welt am Sonntag quotes the respectable Forsa polling institute, which found out that only 23% of Germans are in favor of using military measures to force Iran to give up its nuclear program, if diplomacy fails. 72% are against it.

I doubt whether opinion polls concerning military options on Iran are useful at this point in time. How many 'ordinary' citizens have already seriously thought about the Iranian threat and considered all the pros and cons of a war against Iran compared with accepting a nuclear Iran ruled by the current regime and also made up their mind?


The PEW Research Center has learned:
More Americans worry that we will wait too long than act too quickly in dealing with Iran's nuclear problem. However, far more Americans say the United Nations or the European Union ­ rather than the U.S. ­ should take the lead in dealing with the crisis.
PEW concludes that "the public remains divided" over Iraq:
A narrow majority of Americans (51%) say the original decision to use force in Iraq was right, up from 45% a month ago. But at the same time the proportion saying we will definitely or probably fail in establishing a stable government in Iraq also edged up from 34% to 39%. Overall views of how things are going in Iraq remained level with 13% saying things are going very well, 38% fairly well, 29% not too well and 17% not at all well. And the public remains divided about evenly over whether we should keep troops in Iraq until the situation has stabilized (50%) or bring U.S. troops home as soon as possible (46%).

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Kathy - At the Zoo on :

PEW is trustworthy, but the media polls aren't. Remember how far off they were about the election? No poll on what Americans think of Europe? We have put up with European anti-Americanism for so long that I bet Europeans will be shocked to see adverse consequences. Unfortunately, our media buried and obfuscated this bigotry and constant smearing. But, via the Internet now, we Americans are finding out more and more of how ugly it is every day.

Jorg on :

Thanks, Kathy! "No poll on what Americans think of Europe?" I have linked to the major BBC survey partly conducted and published by [url=http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/168.php?nid=&id=&pnt=168&lb=hmpg1#Europe]PIPA at the University of Maryland[/url] which says that 60% of Americans have a lmainly positive view of Europe, while 24% have a mainly negative view. And according to the [url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=269]PEW report[/url] that I linked to: "More than three-quarters of Americans (78%) say the U.N. should take the lead on this issue, compared with just 17% who say the U.S. A smaller number, but still a majority (51%), says that the European Union, rather than the United States, should take the lead in dealing with Iran's nuclear program." So does that mean Americans trust the UN and the EU at this point in time in the negotiations with Iran? If Americans had such a bad view of the UN and the EU, they would not say that they should take the lead, would they? Yes, I could have mentioned that in my post, but it was already very long. Still, you might be right and that Americans do have more negative views. Do you have any poll numbers or other evidence? "I bet Europeans will be shocked to see adverse consequences." What do you mean?

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

I haven't time today to look into polls, but I will see if I can find some more tommorrow. I hate to say this, but our MSM and the BBC are untrustworthy. It has gotten to the point that I don't trust them to to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about what day of the week it is. Not that I have any doubt about how much the world hates America. That's what a relentless campaign of national character assassination, much of it originating in Europe, has done to us. Don't judge our attitude by the people living in the echo chambers of New England and California. As in Europe, there people are so crowded that, like a herd of cattle, over 90% of them just face the same way everybody around them does. Unfortunately, for many years, anyone who hadn't been to Europe was blissfully unaware of how bad the stuff being broadcast about America is. Yes, we knew about anti-Americanism and the French, but we had no idea (a) how outrageously false, vicious, insulting, and bigoted it is (the Soviets didn't broadcast such upside-down anti-American lies about America!), (b) how it is being exported from Europe to the whole world, especially Middle East, and (c) how bad it could hurt us. Till 9/11. That's why there was never any backlash. So, I'm sure Europe got the idea that they could abuse us and our friendship to any extreme without any backlash. But now we see European hate-mongering against America as a national security issue. It contributes to the worldwide moral persecution of America and helps fire up Islamo-fascists. Beyond putting a cork in the mouth of the European state-controlled and state-funded media braodcasting this stuff, we have no interest. We are so shocked and hurt that we have just written Europe off. As Mitterand claimed, Europe can be in an eternal war with us, but it's just a war of hot air because Europe is so weak. So we needn't fight back in any other way. If I were Europe though, I wouldn't call America for help anymore. We need no "friends" and "allies" who are so hostile to us. If I sound bitter, it's because we ARE bitter. Warning: It's past time that Europeans came to and started worrying about what WE think of THEM. The circulation of the New York Times has fallen by something like 30 million the past few years. The TV networks have lost 30-40% of their viewing audience. They no longer control what what we find out, so what Europeans are saying and doing no longer goes on "behind our back" so to speak. There are even blogs that translate some of this anti-American propaganda to English to clue us Americans in about the knife in our back. This is a sea change. There WILL be a backlash. In Middle America I think many people want Europe and the UN to handle the Iran problem. Not because we trust them, but because if we had anything to do with the process, no matter we did, they would cross us to make the effort fail and condemn us. Schroeder managed to distort logic enough to blame us for Europe's failure anyway! So, we think, "Let them try their 'wise' way." We know what will happen. Unless something happens to bring the mullahs to their senses so they realize that the President means what he says, in the 11th hour we will have do what we will have to do -- bomb the hell out of those facilities. (No, it won't take strategic nuclear weapons, though it may take some bunker busters.) And we'll be globally condemned by people deep down inside thanking God that America again saved the world. So, why not just sit back till then and relax? After all, a miracle could happen to make that action unnecessary.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

Jorg, I finally had time to check for polls. I'm not the best Googler in the world and I couldn't easily find any recent ones. But, in following your link to PIPA at the U of M, I then clicked on the Questionaire/Methodology Link. Look at page 6 of the PDF document that loads. (I get an error loading an image on the first page, but the other pages are there.) Americans are asked "Please tell me if you think each of the following are having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world . . ." Look at those stats! Here's a sampling of what percentage of Americans think the following countries have a "mainly NEGATIVE influence in the world" Canada - 60% Finland - 65% France - 65% Germany 65% Great Britain - 57% Italy - 46% Poland - 15% IRAN - 65% That's not the whole story, of course, so I urge everyone to view the entire table. Also, I have seen polls at Medienkritik that show Americans are a good deal more positive and optimistic than Europeans, so I doubt we are ever likely to be as negative about the negative. You can guage this by the number for Iran. Nobody thinks well of Iran, but it only gets 65%. That can be due to doubt that Iran is successful in having a negative influence on the world. Also, notice that the only really high numbers in that table are for the POSITIVE views of Afghanistan and the Phillipines. Also, except in New England, California and a few big cities, you just don't find lopsided majorities on anything here like you do in Europe. On any foreign policy question, over 90% of the French will agree. Over 90% of New Yorkers are Democrats. That's not independent thinking. It's the herding instinct. In "red-state" America that just NEVER happens.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

Correction. I have to eat my words. I read the tables wrong. Europe as a whole - 24% Great Britain - 26% IRAN - 81% France - 48% (Before Chirac threatened to nuke both Iran and the US)

ROA on :

Re: Use of Force to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Why donít we rephrase the question for Europeans. Do you favor military intervention by Europeans to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons? Or, more realistically, does Europe have the military capacity to conduct any type of military intervention against Iran?

Chris on :

Great post. ROA, Europe does not. Note how Rummy has scolded them of late to build up their military. Moreover, note the Pentagon's quadrannual (sp?) report states: The plan rests heavily on a much higher level of cooperation and integration with Britain and other Nato allies, and the increased recruitment of regional governments through the use of economic, political, military and security means. It calls on allies to build their capacity "to share the risks and responsibilities of today's complex challenges". (From today's Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1710062,00.html)

ROA on :

Chris. I know. That was my sarcastic way of saying that Europe is willing for the US to use military force so they can then claim the US is committing crimes against humanity and is the biggest threat to world peace since the combination of Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

Thomas on :

Let's be honest: The US does not have that capability either. The US is busy in Iraq. Besides, Iran is much bigger in size and population than Iraq and the US military is already struggling in Iraq. Yes, the US could bomb the nuclear facilities, but Europeans could do so too. Even Denmark alone as that capability, I believe. And after the airstrikes? What are you doing then?

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

Our armed forces number in the millions. Because they are still configured for the Cold War, we can use only a small fraction of them (less than 20% if I remeber correctly) rotating in and out of Iraq. Rotating in and out of Iraq. In an emergency the rotation would stop and they'd all be called up "for the duration." So we are operating at nowhere near capacity. This is a perfect example of how ignorant know-it-alls about America are. I am amazed at how, just as before World War II, the rest of the world is so ignorant of the size and capacity of this country. Foolishly they poke "the sleeping giant" in the eye. All it takes is a calculator and a list of statistics to know better. We are the elephant in this jungle. We could defeat the next-most-powerful sixteen nations in the world. So, it's a whole different world from our perspective, which is why nobody understands us. And once the reconfiguration of our military is complete, we will be able to rotate in and out of a conflict a much larger segment of the total force -- meaning that then no one should have to serve more than one or two tours of duty in 10 years. Having to use the same units repeatedly is the only problem we have right now. And we aren't in Iraq to eradicate the insurgency -- only to keep the lid on it and whittle away at it. That's why we never occupied any towns we cleaned out. The Iraqis must finish the job when they're prepared to handle it. Doing it ourselves would take a million troops, and that really would be an occupation -- which would create a mess and turn the Iraqi people against us.

David on :

Read this report (pdf) by the Oxford Research Institute on the consequences of an airstrike on Iran's nukes. http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefings/IranConsequences.pdf "A major American attack on Iran's nuclear sites would kill up to 10,000 people and lead to war in the Middle East" These guys have a good track record. In a similar briefing before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Oxford group predicted that Saddam Hussein's regime could easily be overwhelmed but that the country would become a hotbed of insurgency. Too bad nobody read that report in Washington.

Thomas on :

A quote from that report: "An air attack on Iran by Israeli or US forces would be aimed at setting back Iranís nuclear programme by at least five years. A ground offensive by the United States to terminate the regime is not feasible given other commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and would not be attempted." And: "There would be considerable national unity in Iran in the face of military action by the United States or Israel, including a revitalised Revolutionary Guard. One key response from Iran would be a determination to reconstruct a nuclear programme and develop it rapidly into a nuclear weapons capability, with this accompanied by withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This would require further attacks. A military operation against Iran would not, therefore, be a short-term matter but would set in motion a complex and long-lasting confrontation." How long do you think until the American people would cut an run?

ROA on :

Thomas, If I understand you correctly, I definately agree with you. Any miltary action in Iran at the present time would be seriously counterproductive. Iran is going to get nukes and there isn't anything we can do to stop them. If they use them there will be sufficient support for an all out attack on them, but until then we need to learn to live with a nuclear Iran.

joe on :

David, Do you have a link to the predictions on Iraq made by the Oxford Research Institute prior to the actually conduct of military operations? I would be interested in reading their report. Thanks.

David on :

Joe, Here is the link to their report from October 2002: http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefings/Iraqbriefing.pdf

Migeru on :

opinion polls in the US and in Germany produce contradictory results for both countries:Heh, what happens is that the questions are loaded.The Los Angeles Times asked Americans: "If Iran _continues to produce material that can be used to develop nuclear *weapons*_, would you support or oppose the U.S. taking military action against Iran?" 57% said they would support, while 33% said they would oppose.Hmmm. "Material that can be used to produce nuclear weapons"? Just about every technology is "dual-use technology".However, when ABC News asked "To try to prevent Iran from _developing nuclear *technology*_, would you support or oppose the United States bombing Iran's nuclear development sites?", only 42% of the US respondents said they would support, while 54% said they would oppose.This is a more honest question. Technology? Sure! Weapons _potential_? Surely not!

Migeru on :

[quote]If it emerges that Iran is on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon, more Europeans are ready to support limited NATO military strikes than those who wish to oppose strikes no matter what.[/quote]Sure, the problem with this one is that Iran is at worst within 5 years of developing a nuclear weapon, according to expert estimates. But recently the drumbeat has changed to "acquiring the know-how" within months. It's not like the broad outlines of nuclear (including weapons) technology are not in the public domain. A team of a dozen smart physicists and engineers can acquire the know-how before the end of this year. Who are we kidding? Stuff cannot be disinvented.

Migeru on :

About the Pew Research poll: [i]Overwhelming numbers believe that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons it would likely launch attacks on Israel (72%), and the U.S. or Europe (66%). There is even greater agreement that a nuclear-armed Iran would be likely to provide nuclear weapons to terrorists (82%).[/i] The power of propaganda: Israel could respond to one experimental nuke with 200 mature ones. Any of these options entails national suicide for Iran. If they want a nuke it is for deterrence (it worked for North Korea!). As for this [i]More Americans worry that we will wait too long than act too quickly in dealing with Iran's nuclear problem. However, far more Americans say the United Nations or the European Union ≠ rather than the U.S. ≠ should take the lead in dealing with the crisis. [/i] Well, methinks Americans would just rather have the body bags go to Europe.

Joerg on :

Thanks for your comments, Migeru. ""A majority of Americans already want us to take the lead on Iran, for example." I don't find that comforting at all. To me it sounds like wanting the EU to provide the dead bodies for another failed imperialistic adventure" They might want this. But if (!) they wait for Europe to take the lead, they can wait a long time, i.e. there won't be any adventure started by Europeans. I doubt whether opinion polls concerning military options on Iran are useful at this point in time. How many 'ordinary' citizens have already seriously thought about the Iranian threat and considered all the pros and cons of a war against Iran compared with accepting a nuclear Iran ruled by the current regime and also made up their mind? I think most Americans who were supportive of the Iraq war, will be more cautious concerning Iran. They want the EU and the UN to negotiate. They know that they can't afford another Iraq style war. Iran is three times the size of Iraq. The US simply does not have the ressources. Europe does not neither.

Migeru on :

I hope you're right, Joerg. [i]They know that they can't afford another Iraq style war. Iran is three times the size of Iraq. The US simply does not have the ressources. Europe does not neither.[/i] Have any of the people suggesting military action in Iran looked at a map of Asia and coloured Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan bloody red? A very illuminating exercise, that, and it assumes there's no need to colour Pakistan or Saudi Arabia red, too.

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