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Transatlantic Foreign Policy Attitudes and Threat Perceptions

The graphic below is from Transatlantic Trends Survey of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The perception of various threats does not seem to be very different in the United States and Europe.  Certainly the differences are not so big to suggest that Europeans and Americans do not share many common interests anymore, as more and more bloggers claim these days.


Transatlantic Trends: Key Findings (pdf) and Narrated Slide Presentation.

The German weekly Die Zeit summarizes the findings as well.

Prof. Drezner of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University discusses the assumption of American exceptionalism in his book review "Mind the Gap" for the The National Interest. The first book is Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes' America Against the World (,, which "compares and contrasts the attitudes of Americans and other nationalities, relying primarily on the Pew Global Attitudes project. The second is Benjamin Page and Marshall Bouton's The Foreign Policy Disconnect (,, which compares and contrasts the attitudes of Americans and foreign policymaking elites." The book review in The National Interest is available for free, but Dr. Drezner also has an excerpt on his blog "Taking exception to American exceptionalism?": 
In detailing the patterns and gaps between the American public and others, these books nicely complement and occasionally contradict each other. Both The Foreign Policy Disconnect and America Against the World will add grist to the mill for those who profess faith in the wisdom of crowds and doubts about the judgment of foreign policy experts. After cogitating on both books, it would be difficult for the informed reader to believe that Americans hold irrational or flighty views about foreign policy. Most Americans, on most issues, articulate what George W. Bush characterized as a "humble" foreign policy during the 2000 campaign. They want a prudent foreign policy based on security against attacks and threats to domestic well-being—though American attitudes about multilateralism remain an open question. The gaps between American attitudes and the rest of the world are overstated; the gaps between Americans and their policymakers might be understated. The biggest question—which neither of these books answers satisfactorily—is to what extent these views, and gaps between views, matter.
Emphasis in bold added, because I think this is important for the frequent debates about transatlantic disagreements.

Related: Prof. Drezner December 2006 article in the Washington Post: "The Grandest Strategy Of Them All."



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Don S on :

"The surprise in America Against the World is that Europeans and not Americans are the truly exceptional public in the world. In contrast to the rest of the world, Europeans are the outliers when it comes to attitudes about nationalism and religion—they’re turned off by both kinds of creeds. American levels of patriotism and devotion to God look perfectly normal when compared to the non-European parts of the globe." "Kohut and Stokes conclude, “This pattern recurs time and again: Americans are different from Europeans, especially Western Europeans, but they are closer to people in developing countries on many key attitudes and values.” Interesting conclusion here. I've often thought that many European critics of the US are busy studying their own navels and finding them good and 'nrmal' whilst the US and Americans are bad and abnormal. Take some of the arguments about exports. Belgium exports vastly more as a proportion of it's GDP than the US does, and this is often taken as a sign of particular virtue. Belgium exports quite a lot to France and Germany and Nederlands. Is this not far more akin to the fact that Wisconsin 'exports' to Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota than is usually thought in Europe? Many European minds seem constrained by European borders. Is it not time for these provincials to leave their narrowness behind and emerge into the world at long last? ;)

Zyme on :

It´s a pity that the last part only says "immigrants", so I guess it is about legal immigration. It would have been interesting to see the difference between legal and illegal "immigrants", especially in Europe I guess a lot more people feel threatened by illegals than by legal immigrants. Legals can be controlled by the state easily while illegals are threatening vital parts of our societies.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

There probably is not much of a difference between US and European attitudes on illegal immigration The question was phrased this way: [i]Q13a.2 I am going to read you a list of possible international threats to [Europe\ the United States] in the next 10 years. Please tell me if you think each one on the list is an extremely important threat, an important threat, or not an important threat at all. Large numbers of immigrants coming into [Europe\ the United States] (M)[/i]

Zyme on :

"There probably is not much of a difference between US and European attitudes on illegal immigration" I doubt it. Since the continents pursue entirely different policies regarding illegal immigration, a different opinion among the populations would not be surprising.

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