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Crisis or Consensus? Public Opinion and National Security in Western Europe

  • Richard C. Eichenberg

Abstract

When the NATO Alliance celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 1979, few would have predicted that the very existence of the Alliance would soon be in doubt. Most commentaries stressed the theme of continuity in the Alliance, a continuity that rested on a firm basis of common interest in security, economic, and political affairs. In addition, the mutual interests of the Western nations were reinforced by a stable East-West power structure that rendered alternative security arrangements infeasible, unpopular or both.1

Keywords

Public Opinion National Security Nuclear Weapon Security Policy Military Force 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    On the theme of continuity, see Stanley Hoffmann, “NATO at Thirty: Variations on Old Themes”, International Security, 4/2 (Summer 1979) pp. 88–107; andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anton W. DePorte, Europe Between the Superpowers: The Enduring Balance (New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Eliot A. Cohen, “The Long-Term Crisis of the Alliance”, Foreign Affairs, 61/2 (Winter 1982/3) pp. 325–43;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Irving Kristol, “Does NATO Exist?”, in Kenneth Myers (ed.), NATO: The Next Thirty Years (Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1981) pp. 361–72.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Lawrence Freedman, “NATO Myths”, Foreign Policy, 45 (Winter 1982) p. 48.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Francis Pym, “Defense in Democracies: the Public Dimension”, International Security, 7/1 (Summer 1982) pp. 40, 44; emphasis as in the original.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 5.
    In the voluminous literature on public opinion in the 1980s, I found only three studies that provide this type of detailed “three-way” breakdown. All deal with West Germany: Stephen Szabo, “West Germany: Generations and Changing Security Perspectives”, in Stephen Szabo (ed.), The Successor Generation: International Perspectives of Postwar Europeans (London: Butterworth, 1983);Google Scholar
  8. Gregory F. T. Winn, “Westpolitik: Germany and the Atlantic Alliance”, Atlantic Community Quarterly, 21/2 (Summer 1983) pp. 140–50; andGoogle Scholar
  9. Harald Mueller and Thomas Risse-Kappen, “Origins of Estrangement: the Peace Movement and the Changed Image of America in West Germany”, International Security, 12/1 (Summer 1987) pp. 52–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 6.
    Michael Howard, The Causes of Wars (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983) pp. 4–5.Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    Gregory Flynn and Hans Rattinger (eds), The Public and Atlantic Defense (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Allanheld, 1985) p. 381.Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    As cited in Lawrence Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (London: Macmillan, 1981) p. 364.Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, Power and Interdependence (Boston, Mass: Little, Brown, 1977) esp. pp. 27–9.Google Scholar
  14. 10.
    Cited in ibid., p. 26.Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    The most comprehensive statement of Ronald Inglehart’s theory is The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles Among Western Publics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977); see also his later study, “Postmaterialism in an Environment of Insecurity”, American Political Science Review, 75/4 (December 1981) pp. 880–900.Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    Peter Flora, et al., State, Economy and Society in Western Europe, 1815–1975 (Chicago, Ill.: St James Press, 1983) ch. 10.Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    Seyom Brown, New Forces in World Politics (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1974); see also Mueller and Risse-Kappen, “Origins of Estrangement”.Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    Two excellent reviews of the problems involved in the study of generational change are Paul Beck, “Young versus Old in 1984: Generations and Life Stages in Presidential Nominating Politics”, PS, 17/3 (Summer 1984) pp. 515–25; andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kent Jennings and Richard G. Niemi, Generations and Politics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 18.
    Inglehart, “Post-Materialism in an Environment of Insecurity”; and Russell Dalton, “Was There a Revolution? a Note on Generational versus Life-Cycle Explanations of Value Differences”, Comparative Political Studies, 9/4 (January 1977) pp. 459–75. For an informative exchange of views between Inglehart and his critics, see the entire issue of Comparative Political Studies, 17/4 (January 1985).Google Scholar
  21. 19.
    Kent Jennings, “Residues of a Movement: the Aging of the American Protest Generation”, American Political Science Review, 81/2 (June 1987) pp. 367–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 20.
    A number of these studies is reviewed in Richard C. Eichenberg, “Strategy and Consensus: Public Support for Military Policy in Industrial Democracies”, in Edward Kolodziej and Patrick Morgan (eds), National Security and Arms Control: A Reference Guide to Theory and Practice (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  23. 22.
    Ronald Inglehart, “The Changing Structure of Political Cleavages in Western Society”, in Russell Dalton, Scott Flanagan and Paul Beck (eds), Electoral Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984) pp. 34, 22.Google Scholar
  24. 23.
    Michael Howard, War and the Liberal Conscience (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1978); on the similarity of idealist thinking and the demands of the peace movements,Google Scholar
  25. see Stanley Hoffmann, “Realism and its Discontents”, The Atlantic (November 1985) pp. 131–6.Google Scholar
  26. 25.
    The peace movements of the 1950s were not the only examples. See Alfred Grosser, The Western Alliance (New York: Vintage Books, 1982).Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    A good introduction to survey analysis is found in Paul Abramson, Political Attitudes in America (San Francisco, Calif.: Freeman, 1983) chs 2 and 3.Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    Michael Harrison, “The Successor Generation, Social Change and New Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy in France”, in Szabo, The Successor Generation, p. 35; Kenneth Adler and Douglas Wertman, “West European Concerns for the 1980s: Is NATO in Trouble?”, paper presented to the 1981 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Public Opinion Research, Buck Hills Falls, Pa, p. 11; Werner J. Feld and John K. Wildgen, NATO and the Atlantic Defense (New York: Praeger, 1982) pp. 103–4.Google Scholar
  29. 30.
    The full responses to this question are presented in Chapter 4; they are drawn from Office of Research, USIA, West European Public Opinion on Key Security Issues, 1981–82, Report R-10–82 (Washington, D.C., June 1982).Google Scholar
  30. 37.
    Office of Research, USIA, Multi-Regional Security Survey: Questions and Responses (Washington, D.C.: April 1980) p. 3.Google Scholar
  31. 40.
    Hans Rattinger, “National Security and the Missile Controversy in West Germany”, paper delivered to the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., September 1982.Google Scholar
  32. 41.
    John Mueller, War, Presidents and Public Opinion (New York: Wiley, 1973);Google Scholar
  33. Richard Merritt, “Public Opinion and Foreign Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany”, in Patrick McGowan (ed.), Sage Yearbook of Foreign Policy Studies (Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage Publications, 1973);Google Scholar
  34. Martin Abravenal and Barry Huges, “Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Behavior: a Cross-National Study of Linkages”, in Patrick McGowan (ed.), Sage Yearbook of Foreign Policy Studies (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1974).Google Scholar
  35. 42.
    Stephen Szabo, “The West German Security Debate: the Search for Alternative Strategies”, paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Atlanta, Ga, March 1984.Google Scholar
  36. 43.
    Gregory Flynn, “Public Opinion and Atlantic Defense”, NATO Review, 31/5 (December 1983) p. 5.Google Scholar
  37. 44.
    The German poll on flexible response is reproduced in Richard C. Eichenberg, “Public Opinion and National Security in Europe and the United States”, in Linda Brady and Joyce Kaufmann (eds), NATO in the 1980s (New York: Praeger, 1985) p. 240. On the relative salience of security issues, see Flynn and Rattinger, The Public and Atlantic Defense, pp. 366–9.Google Scholar
  38. 47.
    Karl Mannheim, “The Sociological Problem of Generations”, in Paul Kecskemeti (ed.), Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1952) p. 291.Google Scholar
  39. 48.
    The literature on generational differences in American security opinions is reviewed in Robert Wells, “The Vietnam War and Generational Difference in Foreign Policy Attitudes”, in Margaret Karns (ed.) Persistent Patterns and Emerging Structures (New York: Praeger, 1986) pp. 99–125.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard C. Eichenberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard C. Eichenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Tufts UniversityUSA

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