The Boston Review has just put the results of a very interesting opinion survey online. They’ve asked respondents whether they would approve of military intervention to support a number of goals, and provided a breakdown of how party ID correlates with the answers. Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to approve of military intervention to ensure the supply of oil, to destroy terrorist camps, and to assist in the spread of democracy. The differences are much less marked when military intervention is intended to prevent genocide or to assist an ally under attack. When military intervention is intended to help the UN support international law, Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to be in favour. This provides a valuable corrective to the widely discussed Transatlantic Trends survey of a few months ago, which reported that Democrats were far less likely than Republicans to support interventions aimed at helping the international spread of democracy. As I interpret these results (and I acknowledge that they could be interpreted in various ways), Democrats are more likely than the earlier numbers suggest to favour such interventions – but only if they’re in accordance with international law. The interesting question – which we’ll never know the answer to – is how Republicans and Democrats would have responded to these questions in 2000 or even in late 2001. I suspect that Democrats would have been more likely than today to favour intervention to spread democracy, but that very few Republicans indeed would have been favorably disposed to actions of this sort.
The Boston Review suggests that this is the first in a series of ‘State of the Nation’ surveys that they’ll be running and reporting – this looks set to be a very valuable resource indeed.