SECOND WAVE OF THE B.R.I.E. (FEBRUARY 2003) Press Summary
We present the
results of the second wave of the Barómetro del Real Instituto Elcano (BRIE), a
periodic survey of foreign policy and defense that began in November 2002. The
survey was carried out in mid-February with a representative sample of 1,200
interviewees. It contains information on the main issues on the international
agenda in the past months: EU reform, the Iraq crisis and the image of the U.S.
comparative study of some of these issues, and in particular of the image of
the United States, we have repeated questions from the international survey, Global
Attitudes Project, by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press
(Washington), carried out in autumn/winter 2002 in 42 countries of North
America, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Arab countries and the
EU, but not in Spain.
highlighted the most significant results of the study below.
Lack of interest or awareness of international politics
live with their backs turned to international reality, even in a situation as
serious as the present one. Only one in three Spaniards (38%) declares an
interest in international politics.
As a result,
there is a terrible ignorance of international issues, which is especially
serious in the case of certain issues that have clear repercussions on our own
country. The Spanish are unaware of key aspects of European policy. 80% of those
interviewed could not correctly identify any of the countries in the enlarged
EU. This figure is even higher than in November 2002. Furthermore, 90% of
interviewees do not know the main objectives of the Convention on the Future of
Europe presided by Giscard D’Estaing, similar to the 89% in November 2002.
The sense of threat grows
lack of interest or and information,
the sense of outside threats has spread. This began to be noticed after 9-11
and has continued since. Whereas in November 2002, 62% of Spaniards considered
the international situation to be bad, this has now risen to 77%.
An analysis of
this development between November 2002 and February 2003 suggests that Spanish
public opinion has become more sensitive to certain issues, especially those
involving the Middle East: the Arab-Israeli conflict, Islamic terrorism and
Iraq. The percentage of Spaniards who consider certain threats “very
significant” has risen:
terrorism: from 47 to 52%
- Iraq: from 22 to 33%
- The Palestinian-Israeli
conflict: from 15 to 21%
specifically, belief in the possibility of acts of Islamic terrorism occurring
in Spain has risen significantly from 65 to 81%.
proliferation of mass destruction weapons is a very significant threat for 43%
of interviewees. Related to this issue, the Korean situation was also included
in the survey. Practically half of all Spaniards (45%) consider Korea to be
serious threat (dangerous or very dangerous) to the stability of Asia.
In this climate
of generalized risk and growing threat, only immigration dropped from 43 to
Iraq as a threat
perceived as a real threat. To begin with, there is clear agreement that Saddam
- is a dictator who
oppresses his people (85%)
- flouts international
- is linked to
international terrorism (67%)
- possesses mass
destruction weapons (58%)
possible justifications for a hypothetical attack (at the time the survey was
being carried out) on Iraq, interviewees were asked if they considered Saddam’s
regime a threat to stability in the Middle East. 60% consider it dangerous
(18%, very dangerous and 42%, quite dangerous); 20%, somewhat dangerous; and
6%, not at all dangerous. In fact, surprisingly, the Spanish consider Saddam’s
regime to be a greater threat (39%) than the Arab-Israeli conflict (18%).
There is a
medium-level sense of threat in Spain. This is similar to France, both in terms
of size and socio-demographic make-up. Compared to our country or to France,
the sense of danger is greater (around 80%) in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany.
However, it is lower in Russia and Turkey (about 50% of the population).
“No to the war”
Hussein’s regime is considered a threat, the general opinion continues to be
that an attack is not the correct response. In February 2003 the question that
had been asked in November 2002 was repeated: “Do you think the U.S.:
- should not invade Iraq?
- should invade with the
approval of the UN and the support of its allies?
- should invade Iraq even
if they have to do it alone?
- Don’t know/ No
November 2002 and February 2003 rejection of war increased three percentage
points, from 61 to 64%. However, according to Barómetro data, conditional
support also rose by 5 points, from 24 to 29%. Unconditional support remained
steady at 2%.
Pacifism, but not radical
the attack is not a result of radical pacifism. The Spanish are certainly not
bellicose: asked whether a war to disarm a country by force is justified when
that country does not respect the law and develops mass destruction weapons,
59% responded “no”.
But the Spanish
consider forceful intervention legitimate in certain cases. The survey asked
interviewees to evaluate military intervention in previous armed conflicts
where Spanish troops have participated. In the case of Kosovo and Bosnia
positive opinions greatly outweigh negative ones (44% to 35%, for example, for
the latter conflict). This was not the case, however, with the first Gulf War
or the campaign in Afghanistan. This indicates that the Spanish differentiate
between different kinds of intervention.
Suspicion of U.S. motives
The attack is
rejected because there is suspicion of U.S. motives. Two out of three
interviewees (68%) believe the U.S. wants to attack in order to take control of
oil resources and 21% because the Iraqi regime is indeed a threat to stability
in the Middle East.
other countries, this suspicion is more intense in France (75%) and Russia
(76%) than in Spain where, in any case, it is greater than in most countries.
Conditioned rejection of the U.S.
As a result of
the above, the image of the U.S. is now more negative than positive:
52% of those
interviewed have a somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion; 40% have a
somewhat favorable or very favorable opinion. Since November 2002 Bush’s
popularity has also declined: on a scale of 0 to 10 it dropped almost a point,
from 3 to 2.1. This shadow is not cast on all U.S. citizens, who are seen more
in a positive light (46%) than in a negative one (43%).
believe the United States does not take the interests of countries like Spain
into account in its international policy (79%), that its policy increases
differences between rich and poor countries (67%) and that it does too little
to solve international problems (46%). They also feel that it is bad for
American ideas and habits to spread around the world (57%) and, in this light,
they have a negative impression of American democracy (50%) and the American
way of doing business (53%).
On the positive
side, they admire American scientific advances (66%) and the country’s music,
cinema and television (60%).
in the section above should not be interpreted as a symptom of a tidal wave of
anti-Americanism. To begin with, the Spanish clearly believe that the world
would be a less safe place if another country had military power similar to
that of the U.S. (42%, compared to 22% who feel it would be a safer place). But
they also think it would be a safer place if the U.S. did not exist (34%,
compared to 23% who think the opposite). Clearly, they reject both American
unipolarity and bipolarity.
line with the attitudes indicated above, the Spanish are the Europeans who are
least in favor of Europe increasing its military spending to establish a
counterweight to American power: 47% reject this strategy (which we could call
the “French” thesis), compared to 31% who favor it far
below the European average (50%). The majority (42%) are of the opinion that
Britain and France ought to dismantle their nuclear arms, while only 20% think
they should put them at the disposal of European defense.
Satisfaction with Spain’s current power in the world
part of the BRIE, interviewees were asked to compare Spain’s power with that of
other middle powers. The Spanish feel their country now has:
- more power than Poland,
Brazil or South Korea
- as much as Italy
- less than Canada
their evaluation of Spain’s weight in world is a realistic one. Nonetheless,
they do not feel it is necessary to increase it. In the BRIE they were asked
whether or not the State allocates enough material and human resources to
action abroad. Only 22% of those interviewed consider these resources to be
insufficient, compared to 47% who believe they are sufficient. The Spanish do
not want to invest more in foreign policy.