DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS AND THE USE OF FORCE [ UPDATED]
Marc Schulman at American Future posted on a real eye-opener of a survey from MIT on the partisan attitudes toward the use of force by the United States. Here are the results ( hat tip to Marc for the following table):
“Democrats (percent expressing approval)
1. To protect American allies under attack by foreign nations: 75.7%
2. To help the UN uphold international law: 70.5%
3. To destroy a terrorist camp: 57.3%
4. To intervene in a region where there is genocide or a civil war: 55.6%
5. To insure the supply of oil: 10.2%
6. To assist the spread of democracy: 6.5%
Republicans (percent expressing approval)
1. To destroy a terrorist camp: 94.8%
2. To protect American allies under attack by foreign nations: 91.9%
3. To intervene in a region where there is genocide or a civil war: 61.4%
4. To assist the spread of democracy: 53.2%
5. To insure the supply of oil: 40.9%
6. To help the UN uphold international law: 35.5%
Average: 63.0% “
A sharp divergence to say the least and a decided discomfort on the Democratic side for using military force to pursue American national interests as opposed to more abstract and altruistic goals. Though even in the latter case the morally persuasive objective of halting genocide lags behind the more ethereal ” help UN uphold international law”.
In my humble opinion, the sophisticated bipartisan foreign policy elite hews closer to the positions expressed by the Democratic respondents, though with far greater realism for such things as supporting allies or securing oil. It was Jimmy Carter, after all, who was the first president to formally define the Persian Gulf as a vital American interest.
The Bush administration is probably to the right of even the Republican respondents in the survey, though currently their options for the use of force are much tempered by the magnitude of our existing commitments. Hence the greater emphasis on diplomacy in the second term.