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Jun 302014

Transworld Paper No. 32

by Danilo Di Mauro

This paper focuses on American and European attitudes towards the economy before and during the financial and economic crisis. The analysis concerns six main topics: the importance of the economy, perceptions of the economic situation, support for free-market, attitudes towards globalization, and support for both governmental and international regulation. Results confirm a remarkable effect of the financial and economic crisis on public opinion in Europe and the US for the most part of indicators analyzed. Particularly, people are more concerned with economic matters and pessimist about the economic situation. EU and US publics are less distant than expected, especially during the crisis. Most evident differences concern support for a stronger market regulation. From a first investigation, this seems linked to the trust of American conservatives in the power of “self-regulation” of the market.


Jun 182014

Transworld Paper No. 31

by Darina Peycheva, Jana Pötzschke, Theron Delano Hall and Hans Rattinger

This paper compares mass and elite perceptions of environmental issues in the United States, the European Union, and Turkey. It covers four topics related to the importance of the issue area, general attitudes, the role of individuals and in istitutions as well as policy instruments aiming to manage environmental problems.
Drawing on survey data from the last decade, there is no doubt that environmental problems are taken seriously in the US and Europe. However, personal concerns and environmental friendly attitudes can hardly be translated into concrete actions if these require financial contribution.
Americans, nevertheless, appear somewhat more likely to make personal expenses for the environment than Europeans. While in general the EU is perceived as not doing enough for environmental problems, it seems to be delivering more than the American stakeholders. Turning to
policy instruments, there is broad support for a wide range of actions which do not differ drastically among Europeans or Americans, the public or elites. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a target policy aim and specific instruments are already under consideration.


Jun 132014

G.Lenzi-S.Walt-R.Alcaro Inaugurating the conference with the tongue-in-cheek remark, “Americans are what they are but they are the only ones we have,” ambassador Guido Lenzi introduced the guest speaker Stephen Walt to a large and keen audience convened at the Centro Studi Americani on June 12, 2014. The Harvard University professor provided a straightforward but pungent account of US foreign policy, pointing to the stark contrast between the successes that preceded the end of the Cold War and the failures that have followed since 1992. Among the several fiascos highlighted by Walt, particular focus was directed to the US interventions in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Walt maintains that the choices America has made since the collapse of the Soviet Union have on the whole been poorly thought out and as a result have tended to backfire with negative results for the US and the world. “America has failed to keep Middle Eastern peace,” he acknowledged and after the end of the Somali relationship with the Soviets, successive US-led missions in Somalia have only made things worse, “every time.” Then “Al Qaeda attacked the US homeland,” continues Walt, “so we responded by invading Afghanistan and Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.”

According to Walt, the United States seems unable to set priorities and develop strategies in a reasonable and sensible manner and this has led to serious difficulties and deficiencies in the foreign policy realm. One of the major problems concerning US behavior in international affairs is its hubris – an improper excess of self-confidence that leads American politicians’ to hold an auto-proclaimed conviction about America being a positive force in the world, bearing the right and responsibility to affect world politics “for the greater good of humanity.” Yet, this view is exclusively shared by members of the policy making elite and the roots of the “paradox of American primacy” originates precisely from this sector. Walt argues that the wide majority of US citizens believe that “America should think less internationally and focus more on its own national issues.” From this last statement, it is clear that the agendas of American policymakers do not reflect the needs and interests of the people they are representing.

To make things worse, foreign countries, too, consider America’s flamboyant interventionism as needless or counterproductive. The United States has lost much of its credibility at the global level and, as Walt explicitly puts it, “States’ acquire weapons of mass destruction and make coalitions because they suspect America will determine the outcome there.”

Walt wrapped up his argument by quoting Otto von Bismarck: “God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America.” The professor, despite his brilliant sarcasm, suggests that there are serious issues regarding the United States’ reputation in world politics and that, by now, the “special providence” pontificated by Bismarck is no longer enough, not anymore. Pointing to the reasons for this, Professor Walt argues that the domestic political setting of the United States, dominated by a long established foreign policy decision making elite increasingly detached from the views of the majority of Americans’, holds most of the blame.


 Posted by on June 13, 2014
Jun 112014

Transworld Paper No. 30

by Kristina Puzarina, Jana Pötzschke and Hans Rattinger

This paper provides a comparative analysis of mass and elite orientations towards human rights and democracy promotion in the United States, the European Union, and Turkey. In particular, it focuses on importance, general attitudes, relevant actors as well as policies and instruments within this political area. Survey data from 2000 to 2012 show that people on both sides of the Atlantic share similar views on what constitutes a good democracy. They equally highlight the value of its electoral institutions, social welfare and prospering economy, while uniformly denouncing the importance of civic military control and religious interpretation of the legislature. Contrarily, the role of the main stakeholder seems to be a somewhat conflicting arena for the transatlantic community. In the US, more people trust national governments rather than the UN to decide on human rights. At the same time Europeans see both the EU and the UN as playing an important role in assisting other nations. When it comes to democracy promotion, both Europeans and Americans highly approve election monitoring, initiatives for civil society development and, to certain degree, economic and political sanctions. Whereas military involvement stands out as the least supported initiative for these publics.