Poll:  Russia Reset and EU Future

Our most recent poll on efforts to “push the reset button” on relations with Russia shows substantially more optimism among Europeans than Americans. 

While more than two-thirds of Americans thought the efforts would “prove largely futile,” Europeans were essentially evenly split, with 48 percent thinking it would “greatly improve cooperation with Moscow.”

This is somewhat surprising.  Recent polls show that Americans overwhelmingly approve of President Obama’s job performance.  It stands at 60 percent, which is more than twice what President Bush left office with.  Yet, on one of his most important foreign policy initiatives, skepticism is profound — more than double the percentage of Americans who disapprove of Obama.  And, certainly, there’s no reason to think that participants in an Atlantic Council poll are disproportionately Obama critics.

Nor are Europeans generally more Pollyannish on these matters.  European respondents to our poll on Sarkozy’s tenure as EU president, for example, were decidedly more sour than their counterparts on this side of the Atlantic.

Perhaps it’s just that Americans are relatively apathetic on foreign policy matters, especially those not involving the two wars we’re currently fighting.  Or, perhaps, Americans are more likely to see conflict as the natural state of affairs, as was the case in our poll on the impact of the Mumbai attacks on Pakistan-India relations.

Our new poll asks, “How will the global financial crisis impact the goal of a united Europe?”  The choices:

  • Negatively: EU members will put their own interests ahead of Europe


  • Positively: EU members will band together for the common good


  • Minimally: There will be little long term effect

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James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.

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