European support for President Obama is quadruple the approval given to his predecessor, George W. Bush, according to a new survey released today by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Compagnia di San Paolo, and partners. Obama's personal popularity, however, has not bridged serious transatlantic differences over Afghanistan, Iran, and climate change. This year's Transatlantic Trends survey recognized an increasing split between East and West Europe in respect to perspectives of the US.
Extracts from the Key Findings:
- Three-in-four (77%) respondents in the European Union and Turkey supported US President Barack Obama’s handling of international affairs, compared with just one-in-five (19%) who approved of the foreign policy of President George W. Bush in 2008.
- Majorities in the European Union and Turkey wanted to see the number of their troops in Afghanistan either reduced or totally withdrawn.
- A majority of people in the European Union (53%) ruled out the use of military force to halt Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. A plurality of Americans (47%) favoured maintaining that military option.
- A majority of Americans (55%) thought Washington had already spent too much money in dealing with the economic crisis, compared with 24% of people in the European Union who thought their governments had spent too much.
- A strong majority of West Europeans (72%) were willing to forgo some economic growth to slow the warming of the planet. Only 56% of Central and East Europeans and 43% of Americans agreed.
- Half the Turkish population (48%) thought EU membership would be a good thing. But, in the last year, opposition to Turkish membership went up in 9 of 11 EU countries surveyed.
Despite huge improvements under Obama there is evidence to suggest that the EU-US honeymoon may not last indefinitely with the above issues being paramount to the successful maintenance of a strong transatlantic relationship. Despite the huge upswing in European support for US foreign policy fundamental divisions still exist between the two allies. American participants were far less intensely concerned than people in the European Union and Turkey about climate change for example.
Please visit the German Marshall Fund of the United States for more information. The Key Findings report is available for download below.