America's plan to attack Iraq split Europe down the middle

An article published in the latest issue of Foreign Policy Analysis shows the different underlying forces in European states' decisions to support the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. The authors show that systemic forces of power relations and ideological orientations of governments in Europe create a difference between the states of Eastern Europe, who were by-in-large supportive of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, and those of Western Europe, who largely opposed the decision. The study also indicates that public opinion could not account for whether a state joined the "coalition of the willing" or not.

The authors find that smaller Eastern European states (many of them former Soviet communist states) tended to be influenced by power relations because it is American power that enhances their security and strengthens their autonomy by holding in check the power of the bigger, mostly Western European states. The authors state, "they are much more vulnerable to influences from other, larger countries, as they are too weak without a strong partner. Whereas the powerful states can self-confidently confront the U.S. because their risk in doing so is simply relatively low, in small states the fear not to anger the superpower should prevail." In Western Europe, the ideological orientations of governments, which are expressed in its party affiliations, were the decisive factor in determining whether a state supported the U.S., but not in Eastern Europe. The authors also find through the use of surveys and by analyzing the extent of public protests, that the states' public opinions were not influential enough to determine key political foreign policy positions regarding the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq.


This study is published in the July issue of Foreign Policy Analysis. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact [email protected]

Foreign Policy Analysis provides an outlet for the highest quality academic research into the processes, outcomes, and theories of foreign policy. Emphasizing accessibility of content for scholars of all perspectives and approaches in the editorial and review process, it serves as a source of synergy and inspired efforts at theoretical integration in this research tradition. It is published on behalf of the International Studies Association.

Jürgen Schuster holds a Master of Arts and is a PhD candidate. At the time the article was written, he was affiliated with the Institute of Political Science, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany and is now a Research Assistant at the Institute of Political Science at University of Regensburg, Germany. Jürgen Schuster is available for questions and interviews.

Herbert Maier holds a Master of Arts and is a PhD candidate, undertaking research and teaching at the Center of International Politics and Transatlantic Relations at the Institute of Political Science at University of Regensburg, Germany. Herbert Maier is available for questions and interviews.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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