Marshall Fund study finds Europe questions US leadership


Admittedly, it's not a surprise, but after reading the overview article in the New York Times this morning, I wanted a closer look at the original study which was sponsored by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The results can be found here and the rest of this article contains my interpretations and observations.

The Key Findings report is in Adobe Acrobat format and is available online.

If you want to read the actual survey questions and results, the Survey is available in Adobe Acrobat format as well.

The Times article concentrated on the opinions in France, Germany, and Italy and specifically their concern over the US's preeminent role today. I found a couple of other interesting numbers looking at the results myself:

  • US survey participants overwhelmingly believed it is a good thing if Europe asserts leadership on the world stage (43% thought it was very desirable, and 37% somewhat desirable), while most Europeans didn't feel the same way about the US (8% very desirable, 37% somewhat desirable), and the French were the most concerned about the US (43% somewhat undesirable, 27% very undesirable).
  • Most country's participants felt their country should be involved in the world. Interestingly, the UK and Poland tied for most likely to stay out of the world (27% combined either said their country should stay out or they weren't sure), with the US ranking third in this question with 23%.
  • French and German participants are the most critical of Bush (82% and 81% combined somewhat and very much disapproval ratings respectively).
  • US respondents believe overwhelmingly (59%) that we are spending too much on foreign aid. Europeans, on the other hand, think that they spend about the right amount on foreign aid. The US is targeting USD11.6B in 2003 (about .55% of the budget -- from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities). The EU zone, on the other hand (with 375M occupants) will be spending EUR4.9B through the EU (from April 2003 EU Bulletin), however I believe that this number does not contain all amounts spent by the member countries individually. As an example, UK Treasury information reports that the UK will be dedicating 0.33% of income to foreign aid projects in 2003.
  • 71% of the European respondents think that Europe should become a superpower "like the US", whereas about 37% of the US respondents like that idea.
  • Interestingly, of those who responded that they wanted Europe to become a superpower, 85% of the Europeans state they want this to "cooperate effectively with the US in dealing with international problems", as opposed to answering "to better compete with the US". However, if the question was worded "to counterbalance the US", the European respondents liked that answer better than cooperation by about 10-15%.
  • French and German respondents were more concerned about radical Islam as a threat than were the US respondents.
  • The US respondents were more concerned about Iran and North Korea than the Europeans (not a large surprise there on either count), although the Europeans were slightly more concerned about an Israeli/Arab conflict (which is interesting).
  • Another interesting piece was the "how do you feel about the following countries" rating. The US was (by far) most happy with itself, with respondents from the US giving the US a 92% favorable rating. Poland was next with 87%, Germany with 82%, the UK with 80%, and France with 78%. The US was solidly in the 50-61% range with all surveyed countries except the US.
  • Also on the popularity contest, the US and Europe seemed to reciprocate, with the exception that France likes the US more than vice-versa and the US likes the UK much more than the UK likes the US.
  • Even the US's strongest supporter (Poland) in foreign policy believes overwhelmingly that their most important relationship is with the EU (as opposed to the US). The UK is the only country in Europe that is evenly modestly certain that their relationship with the US is more important. If you have a chance, read through the questions, especially the split questions, for some more interesting tidbits. Of particular interest are the "What if..." questions about military threats. France, in particular, is not as hesitant to throw in with the US as I would have expected.

And one last thing: the US respondents did rather well at remembering the members of the Security Council, at least in comparison to the Europeans.