As the coalition-building effort for a potential war with Iraq gains momentum on both sides, each country’s position undergoes scrutiny by the international community.
The World Values Survey, a study conducted by researchers around the world, investigated the values of people in 80 different countries that hold 85 percent of the world’s population. The results indicate a correlation between societal values and the willingness to go to war.
“Generally speaking, the lower-income countries are more willing to fight for their country – the United States is an exception,” said political science Prof. Ronald Inglehart, president of the World Values Survey.
“The United States has consistently been the one that is first or second highest on national identity, national pride and willingness to fight for nation,” said Russell Dalton, director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California at Irvine.
The study suggests an explanation for why historical allies of the United States do not agree with America’s stance on war with Iraq. “Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Scandanavia typically score low on public willingness to fight for nation. These are also places where support for the peace movement tends to be very strong,” Dalton said.
Dalton, a principal investigator for The World Values Survey, said the study shows that Germans, for example, “are less wiling to express nationalism because of their history.” “There are also fairly low levels of nationalism in Egypt and Jordan. They see (the conflict) primarily in religious terms rather than political terms … they view this as a clash of cultures,” Dalton added.
Although the United States and Britain appear to favor war with Iraq, Inglehart said the survey indicates the countries’ governments are more willing to go to war than their citizens.
“Bush is presenting the right wing view of American Values. … There is a feeling that there are ruthless, reckless cowboys in Washington,” Inglehart said.
“We have a glimpse inside the heads and feelings of most of the world’s population,” Inglehart said.
Inglehart said the reactions from nations regarding war with Iraq relate to localized beliefs as well as politics. “There really is a difference in the starting points – whether Saddam is or isn’t developing weapons of mass destruction. What you do about it depends on your knee-jerk values,” Inglehart said.