International support of the military action of the United States against the Taliban in Afghanistan

In October 2001, the United States actually went to war with the purpose to remove from power the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had acted as a host to the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, presumed to be the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. In the US itself, no less than 89 percent supported the action.24 In many, if not all other countries this was much less, however.25 Moreover, these data should be taken with some caution as indicators of general sympathy with the US action.

Despite the sympathy with the US as a victim of the terrorist attacks, sending military forces to aid the US in the war on terrorism was by no means generally supported. In less than half of the sixty countries polled by Gallup International worldwide (but including most of the EU member states) did majorities support that US military action. Again, if anything, this showed the limitations of support for the US position worldwide.

Data from other sources generally confirm the degree to which publics in Europe reacted differently and reluctantly with respect to supporting the actions of the US. Only in five member states of NATO did majorities fully support the US action in November 2001, in spite of the successful conduct of the operations in Afghanistan (Table 5.5). Data from April 2002 show a similar supportive picture for the main European countries (Table 5.6).

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