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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%

Average: 46.0%

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.

UPDATE:

Dr. Von weighs in in the first of several posts.

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7 Responses to “”

  1. vonny Says:

    Hi Mark,

    I’d have to agree with you that the administration is to the right of the survey’s results, and that because our military assets are severely stretched diplomacy is most important right now. We will have to see how effectively we can work with Russia (which is negotiating with Iran) and China (with N. Korea), for example, to reduce the risk of further nuclear proliferation.

  2. Dan tdaxp Says:

    Nuclear proliferation as such is a none-issue. Within the Core it really doesn’t matter, and within the Gap the possession of even rudimentary weapons is enough to cause real pain when combined with malice.

    At the risk of becoming a Barnett cloan, Iran appears to be giving us something for the Bomb anyway, while the North Korea situation is best end-game focused.

  3. mark Says:

    Hi Dan,

    I agree that China absorbing the DPRK would be amuch simpler matter -i.e. economically rational- but I’m highly dubious Beijing wants the headache of 20 millon deeply impoverished North Koreans.

    Nor could Seoul – which also doesn’t want them any faster than a fifty year transition – politically accept a Chinese annexation either. The South Korean public would go berserk. They were up in arms over a Chinese map claim to historical sovereignty over a Korean proto-kingdom

  4. Dan tdaxp Says:

    Mark,

    I agree absolutely, and that’s why a focus on the inevitability may be able to change Seoul’s behavior.

    The simple absorption of North Hamgyong would give China access to the Sea of Japan… Then again, a Chinese-Japanaese Condiminium, as all of Korea briefly once was, makes a lot of sense too…

  5. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    It’s interesting to look at the poll results while remembering the circuitous route of the GWB justification for invading Iraq (especially keeping in mind the responses of independents, not listed here.)

    For instance, the Republican opinion about enforcing UN law is ironic, considering the heavy use of a few UN resolutions to justify the invasion: perhaps that was a case of appealing to moderate democrats and some independents.

    Of course, back in 2003, these results would most likely have been a little different. These results also point at why support for the effort in Iraq is waning.

  6. Dan tdaxp Says:

    As Bush had popular backing for the war, I believe that the UN resolutions were for the benefits of other countries — which we didn’t need, anyway.

    A good warning about the negative utility of too-large coalitions.

  7. J. Says:

    “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”.”

    I think you might also express that as an indication that Repubs are prone to quickly accept military force options to support unilateral goals rather than to consider alternatives or to gain international support toward resolution of difficult, international issues.


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