* Foreign Policy and Global Role of the USA As Seen by the General Public

Issues from global politics do not appear in sociological investigations or public opinion polls very frequently although their results tend to be relatively interesting and, oftentimes, they meet with extensive interest and response from media as well as the general public. Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění (Public Opinion Research Centre) strives, as its possibilities allow, to include questions from this area in its continuous investigations.

In 2003 and 2004, the Centre investigated, among other things, an issue which has become very topical, in particular in connection with presidential elections in the United States. It was the issue of foreign policy and global role of the USA. In the same period, certain investigations of CVVM also examined the issue of the war in Iraq, a topic closely related to the USA foreign policy, attitude towards the personality of the current American president, George W. Bush, and towards international institutions such as The United Nations Organisation or the NATO.

As far as the general attitudes towards American foreign policy and towards the role that the USA play in the current global politics are concerned, these were investigated twice in CVVM surveys using a six-item battery of statements, on which respondents expressed either their agreement or disagreement. The first investigation was conducted in the first half of March 2003 and the second, so far the last one, in the second half of May 2004.

When we compare results from both surveys, it is clear that attitudes of the Czech public towards American foreign policy and towards the global role of the USA were much more critical in March 2003 in certain respects than fourteen months later. Most likely, this was due to the extremely escalated situation around Iraq. In particular, the share of those who thought that the then foreign policy of the USA presented a threat to the world of today was distinctly higher in March 2003 (15 percentage points higher) than in May 2004. A clear development in the period between the two surveys was recorded also for conviction that the actions by the USA in international politics do not respect the world community opinion (decrease by 9 percentage points) and that the USA give preference to their own power and financial interests. in their foreign policy (decrease by 6 percentage points). However, there was not any statistically significant increase in the share of those who approved of the United States having the right to use military force against non-democratic regimes, although the share of respondents explicitly disapproving with this statement has decreased by 7 percentage points as opposed to March 2003. The investigation recorded only a very minor development (at the limit of statistical significance) in favour of the statement that the USA seek to ensure stability and peaceful world organisation and that, in their foreign policy, the USA stand up in protection of freedom, democracy and human rights.

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