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Updated Jun 5, 2024, 8:12am EDT
politics

New poll finds Europeans think America will leave them out to dry

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Only 6% of Western Europeans see the United States as a “very reliable” guarantor of European security over the next decade, according to a new survey released Wednesday, underscoring increasing worries about a trend of US isolationism.

The survey of 3,360 people, conducted by the Institute for Global Affairs housed at the Eurasia Group, found that 46% of Western Europeans — respondents from the UK, Germany, and France — view the US as somewhat reliable in its security commitments, while another 36% rate the US as somewhat unreliable and 10% believe the US cannot be relied on at all to protect Europe in the next decade.

The French and Germans polled were the most skeptical of US security commitments; half of the French respondents, for instance, replied that the US is either somewhat or very unreliable. Meanwhile, US respondents were much more likely to rate their own country as a very reliable guarantor of European security, with 24% saying so.

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The data — which comes days before President Joe Biden meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, and weeks before a NATO summit in Washington — may be influenced by the US presidential race. Former President Donald Trump has criticized NATO member countries for not meeting defense spending targets and suggested the US under his administration would not defend allies whose defense budget falls short of NATO’s 2% GDP goal.

Strong majorities in all three European countries and the US said Europe should be primarily responsible for its own defense, while significant percentages — including nearly a third of those surveyed in France — said Europe should solely manage its own defense and broker a “more neutral relationship” with the US.

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The survey, conducted during the month of April, also found broad support among Americans and Western Europeans for pushing for a “negotiated settlement” to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite reluctance on the part of the White House and officials in some European capitals to pressure Ukraine to the negotiating table.

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Asked to pick from a menu of reasons to support or oppose a settlement, 50% of US respondents and 51% of European respondents said NATO member countries should push for a negotiation to end the war specifically because it has resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties. Smaller percentages named the lack of Western capacity and the need for Ukraine to try to end the conflict while it still has leverage as reasons to support a negotiated settlement.

Respondents were also asked to select from a list of world leaders who they believe sets a positive example for leadership. While half of Americans chose Biden, the results were divided along party lines; more Republicans chose Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than selected Biden from the list.

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Biden stressed the importance of alliances in an interview with Time Magazine and insisted that NATO “is considerably stronger” than when he took office, citing the expansion of the alliance to include Finland and Sweden.

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