With peace campaigners throughout the world continuing to rally against American actions in Iraq, a study commissioned by the European Union and presented at the United Nations shows that African Americans' views on President George W. Bush's handling of international affairs are more similar to those of Europeans than to those of white Americans. Cedric Herring reports.
The European Parliament's Committee Against Racism and Xenophobia commissioned the trans-Atlantic survey of African-American opinion leaders on pressing national and international issues. Sixty-eight per cent of white Americans approved of President George Bush's handling of international policy. In contrast, less than 29% of African-Americans approved. The results also showed that 35% of the British approve of Bush's handling of international policy. This compares with 15% of the French and 16% of Germans.
The study also showed that African-Americans view domestic issues such as the economy, unemployment, race relations, crime, education and health as being of higher priority than international affairs and security issues. This is in contrast to a majority of white Americans who see terrorism as the biggest issue.
African-Americans are rarely polled on foreign affairs issues. It is even rarer to have the ability to make comparisons between African-Americans, white Americans and Europeans. For the first time, it is possible to make such direct comparisons.
At the same time as the EU survey was being done, the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations commissioned two other surveys--the first to measure the attitudes of the general American public on matters relating to foreign policy, the second to ask American opinion leaders their views on matters relating to foreign policy.
In addition, the German Marshall Fund of the United States partnered the Chicago Council to undertake a parallel study in six European countries: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands on the same issues. The surveys asked respondents questions about foreign policy, what stance the US should take towards Iraq, how important terrorism is as an issue, how they feel about the Bush Administration and its handling of various international issues, how they would rate the United Nations, what sentiments they feel towards specific foreign countries, and how they feel about various public figures. Key results from the report include the finding that African-American opinion leaders do not give President Bush very high marks on his relations with most other nations. For example, when asked about the Bush Administration's handling of relations with the European Union, 28% of African-American opinion leaders said that it was doing a good or excellent job.
The proportion which believes that the Bush Administration is doing a good or excellent job on relations with Africa was even lower--only 10% of African-American opinion leaders rated the administration's efforts with Africa as positive.
When asked whether spending for military aid to other nations should be expanded, cut back, or kept the same, only 2% of African-American opinion leaders said spending should be expanded. In contrast, nearly half (48%) of African-Americans said spending should be expanded on the United Nations. …