The Left-Right divide on international issues

How much do differences in attitudes toward the use of force and toward the Atlantic community change if we look at the general orientation of the public through the prisms of political ideology? One could argue, on the one hand, that the differences between Left and Right, Liberals and Conservatives, perfectly overlap with those between Hawks and Doves (discussed in Chapter 3), with the Left, more liberal sector of society less in favor of military power and its use and those on the Right, more conservative, definitely supportive of military force and its use. On the other hand, one could find that the difference between those supporting and opposing the Atlantic institutional post-World War II solution perfectly matches the one between Left and Right, with those in favor of the Atlantic institutions more likely to be found on the Right, while those less supportive of the Atlantic collaboration are on the Left. Both patterns are consistent with the ideological discussion about the respective roles of Left and Right, Liberal and Conservatives in domestic and international politics. Traditionally, at least in Europe, the Left has been seen as more pacifist, less addicted to power politics, less favorable to Atlantic collaboration and more anti-American than the Right. On the contrary, the Right usually has been more pro-American, supportive of the Atlantic institutions, in particular NATO, and more inclined to the use of force.

What do the available data show in this regard? The first observation is that the American political landscape is similar to the European on several counts. Table 4.1 offers a first systematic cut on this issue, comparing Left and Right for Europe and the US on the four main dimensions of the Atlantic Community.2 The table reports the percentages of those who perceive Realist and Globalist threats as highly salient, have strong positive feelings toward the United States and the European Union, have a very high score on the Atlanticism Index and are Hawks, Doves and Pragmatists.

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