A healthy start, but…

A fascinating study by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations:

“A new poll finds that a majority of Americans reject the idea of using military force to promote democracy. Only 35 per cent favoured using military force to overthrow dictators. Less than one in five favoured the US threatening to use military force if countries do not institute democratic reforms.

“The effort to promote democracy in Iraq is generating little enthusiasm. Seventy-four percent (including 60% of Republicans) said that the goal of overthrowing Iraq’s authoritarian government and establishing a democracy was not a good enough reason to go to war. Seventy-two percent said that the experience there has made them feel worse about the possibility of using military force to bring about democracy in the future. Sixty-four percent (65% of Republicans) are ready to accept an Iraqi constitution that does not fully meet democratic standards and once the constitution is ratified 57% want to start withdrawing troops.

“Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) comments, ‘More broadly, most Americans do not appear to have been persuaded by President Bush’s State of the Union argument that promoting democracy is a critical means of fighting terrorism and making the world safer.'”

The results are instructive and reflect a growing unease at using American military power across the globe. However, the Iraqi invasion was never about bringing democracy to the country or the region, so the presumption of some questions was misguided. Furthermore, some respondents expressed dissatisfaction with America’s own form of democracy and their inability to shape policy in Washington.

The key message is this: even though the majority of the mainstream media – from the conservative to the more “liberal” – all accept America’s role in the world as destined to spread freedom, more people are starting to see the dangerous assumptions of many in government – and the commentariat – who always rush towards the military option. Americans view of themselves is largely distorted through the prism of their perceived importance in the world. Interestingly, many Americans will be unaware of the hatred towards them by individuals in countries supposedly “liberated” by the US.

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