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. US more eager than Europe for military strikes on Iran: survey
WASHINGTON, Sept 6 (AFP) Sep 06, 2007
Far more Americans than Europeans believe that military force could prove necessary against Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Islamic state's nuclear drive, a major opinion poll said Thursday.

The annual survey by the German Marshall Fund of the United States also suggested that regardless of who takes over the White House next year, no dramatic breakthrough is likely after recent years of transatlantic mistrust.

But in both the United States and Europe, majorities are worried about Russia and similar numbers see China as an economic threat, according to the think-tank's survey of about 13,000 people in the US and 12 European countries.

The Transatlantic Trends 2007 report suggested that 47 percent of Americans believe in reserving the option of military action against Iran if diplomatic talks over its nuclear program collapse.

In Europe, the equivalent figure was just 18 percent, while 47 percent wanted military force against Tehran to be ruled out.

The European Union's three biggest powers -- Britain, France and Germany -- have been coordinating fitful talks with Iran aimed at halting uranium enrichment that the United States insists is designed to build atomic weapons.

Fully 77 percent of Europeans disapprove of US President George W. Bush and his international policies, blaming the war in Iraq and Bush himself, the survey also said.

But 46 percent of Europeans also believe that transatlantic relations will stay the same as now after the 2008 US presidential election, against 35 percent who feel that ties will improve.

"As we look ahead to 2008, it will take more than changes in leadership to mend past rifts," German Marshall Fund president Craig Kennedy said.

"Greater openness and a willingness to work together across the Atlantic will be needed as the world continues to struggle with an increase in global threats," he said.

In the United States, the top threats said to be personally affecting respondents were energy dependence at number one, followed by an economic downturn and international terrorism.

For Europeans, the leading concern was global warming, succeeded by energy dependence and international terrorism.

Just under 80 percent of Americans and 65 percent of Europeans expressed concern about "Russia's role in providing weapons to the Middle East." Majorities were also worried about its "weakening democracy" and its combative role as an energy supplier.

Fifty-four percent of Americans and 48 percent of Europeans "view China more as an economic threat than as an economic opportunity." Half of Americans and 32 percent of Europeans described the rising Asian power as a military threat.

Nearly 90 percent of Europeans want the EU to take greater responsibility on the global stage, especially in aid development, trade and peacekeeping missions, the survey said.

But just over half also said the EU should work in harness with the United States. Only in France was there a majority -- 58 percent -- who would prefer the EU to go it alone internationally.

Italian polling firm Compagnia di San Paolo, which worked with the German Marshall Fund on the survey, said the findings reflected EU leaders' agreement in June to adopt a new working treaty instead of a fully fledged constitution.

Compagnia di San Paolo head Piero Gastaldo said "the EU is likely to get new tools to take responsibility, together with the US, for the critical issues that will remain even after the end of the Bush administration."

The survey polled about 1,000 people in each of the United States and Britain, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and Romania.

The margin of error for the survey, which conducted interviews by telephone and in person during June, was plus or minus three percentage points.

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