Thanks go out to Zenpundit for emailing the results of a MIT survey taken last November. Below is a copy off of the American Future blog:
Democrats (percent expressing approval)
1. To protect American allies under attack by foreign nations: 75.7%
2. To help the UN uphold international law: 70.5%
3. To destroy a terrorist camp: 57.3%
4. To intervene in a region where there is genocide or a civil war: 55.6%
5. To insure the supply of oil: 10.2%
6. To assist the spread of democracy: 6.5%
Republicans (percent expressing approval)
1. To destroy a terrorist camp: 94.8%
2. To protect American allies under attack by foreign nations: 91.9%
3. To intervene in a region where there is genocide or a civil war: 61.4%
4. To assist the spread of democracy: 53.2%
5. To insure the supply of oil: 40.9%
6. To help the UN uphold international law: 35.5%
It is not at all surprising to me that there are these differences between Dems and Republicans, although the magnitude of the spread in some categories is perhaps something to note. As a Democrat myself, in this day and age I would have to agree with Republicans when it comes to destroying a known terrorist camp, and I'd have to agree with trying to assist if there is genocide. For something like a civil war, however, there are many possible scenarios one would have to consider, and to generically say 'Send in our troops' is irresponsible without having specific information.
I am surprised there is still a majority of Republicans who agree with using U.S. military might to spread democracy, although I'd like to see the results if this survey were repeated now instead of back in November of 2005. With a Bush approval rating in the low 30% range and a growing majority of Americans thinking the effort to spread democracy in Iraq is not working, I would have to guess that these numbers would change. We are learning the hard way that one cannot just go into a country and force democracy on them.
A society is a complex system, with the inclusion of at least pseudo-chaotic characteristics. That is, with small changes in initial conditions, vastly different results take hold for a given disturbance to the system. The West obviously has a poor understanding of the effect religion has in the Mideast, and the simplistic way of thinking Bush likes to use on everything, in this case that all people think the same when it comes to a democracy, is flawed. MANY other factors come into play when human beings are concerned, and treating social environments as a deterministic system is not the correct approach. Sometimes it is appropriate to think about things in detail and not go by a 'gut feeling,' as some of our leaders prefer to do.
My next post will be about surveys in general, and will look at one aspect that most people either don't know about, ignore, or forget about: the statistical validity of surveys.