Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Letter to Congress on CCFR Worldviews 2004 Report

Senator Mel Martinez
United States Senate
Washington DC 20510

Dear Senator Martinez,

Congratulations on your elevation to the United States Senate! I am writing to draw your attention to the recently published “Worldviews 2004” report from the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. This is the most comprehensive survey to date on the foreign policy views of both U.S. leaders and the general public, and its format provides very interesting comparisons between the two groups by asking them many of the same questions.

At the end of the “Leaders” section, the report details some of the misperceptions that U.S. Senators and Representatives hold regarding the views of the American public, and I hope that this can be helpful to you in avoiding some of these misperceptions that are shared by so many of your new colleagues. The survey asked Senators and Congresspersons whether more than 60% of the public would support certain policy positions, and it details the differences between their answers and the actual positions of the general public.

For instance, while 76% of Americans support U.S. participation in the International Criminal Court as it is currently constituted, only 7% of Senators and 23% of Congressman estimated support for the I.C.C. at greater than 60%.

Only 10% of Senators and 41% in the House guessed that more than 60% of Americans support U.S. ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, while the actual proportion is 71%.

And, while 74% of Americans believe that our country “should not take either side” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only 6% of Senators and 11% of House members estimated 60%+ support for such a position.

Other parts of the report show that both U.S. leaders and citizens strongly support international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Court, and that Americans’ views on the use of military force conform very closely to those defined as legitimate under current international law. Only 17% of the general public believes that countries have a right to go to war even on “strong evidence” that another country is developing weapons of mass destruction “that could be a threat in the future”, and 72% support U.S. withdrawal from Iraq if that is what a clear majority of Iraqis want.

Strong majorities among the public also support: a complete ban on land-mines (80%); a complete ban on nuclear test explosions (87%); expanded government healthcare programs (79%); renunciation of a nuclear first strike (79%); I.C.C. trials for suspected terrorists (82%); working through the U.N. to strengthen and enforce international laws against terrorism (87% - this is the most popular counter-terrorism policy); and participation in U.N. peacekeeping under U.N. command (78%).

By contrast, there is very little public support for: more overseas military bases (11%); taking Israel’s side against the Palestinians (17%); helping to bring democracy to other nations (14%); taking an independent position on international treaties that the majority of other nations have signed (15%); and overthrowing governments that support terrorism “without the need to get U.N. approval”(17%).

And only 8% of Americans agree with the statement, “As the sole remaining superpower, the U.S. should continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems”, while 78% support sharing that responsibility with other countries.

I hope that this letter, followed by your own reading of the full report, will help you and your staff to craft policy positions that accurately reflect the views of the people of Florida and the United States. I wish you well.

Yours sincerely