Gaining foreign support for U.S. objectives

It’s easy to anticipate the Republican sneers at the finding that citizens of other countries overwhelmingly prefer John Kerry to George W. Bush.

But just as a matter of tactics, ask yourself: which of the two candidates would, if elected, have an easier time getting cooperation from foreign governments?

The sample size was 35,000, spread over 35 countries, none of them Arabic. Four of the thirty-five went for Kerry, three for Bush (the Philippines by a sold margin, Poland, Nigeria, and Thailand by much smaller ones). India was split.

The numbers are pretty striking. Overall, Kerry averaged a more than two-to-one lead (more or less the same whether the averaging was done country-by-country or population-weighted). Kerry was preferred by 46%, Bush by 20%, the rest were undecided or chose a policy of non-intervention.

Kerry scored better with higher-income and better-educated voters. He carried 10 of the 12 coalition partners in the sample:

Selected numbers, arranged by Kerry’s margin:

Norway: 74%-7%

Germany: 74%-10%

France: 64%-5%

Canada: 61%-16%

Italy: 58%-14%

Brazil: 57%-14%

China: 52%-12%

Spain: 45%-7%

UK: 47%-16%

Indonesia: 57%-34%

Mexico: 38%-18%

Japan: 43%-32%

India: 34%-33%

Thailand: 30%-33%

Poland: 26%-31%

Nigeria: 27%-33%

Philippines: 32%-57%

You can blame this on the biased foreign press if you like, but the facts are the facts: a Kerry Administration would be negotiating with foreign governments from a position of political strength.

A crusty Cold War hawk of my acquaintance summed up the “multilateralism” question this way: “In a knife fight, do you want your buddies behind you or not?” It looks to me as if re-electing Mr. Bush, who doesn’t know whether or not America can win the war on terror, isn’t the way to get our buddies behind us.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

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