Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

November 5, 2001
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]

In a recent poll, the Public Opinion Foundation asked why many nations are supporting the actions of the United States in Afghanistan.

(It turned out that 83% of respondents were aware that such an operation is in progress.)

Around a third of respondents (36%) are firmly convinced that "the battle against terrorism is in the interests of all states".

But 16% of respondents consider that in this case the deciding factors have been the power and authority of the United States. In other words, those nations which are supporting the United States are simply afraid of it, or dependent on it, or want to take advantage of the situation in order to draw closer to the United States.

Another 3% of respondents say the United States is only supported by NATO member nations, since this is part of their obligations as allies. And 3% believe this to be "an initial wave of solidarity": there is sympathy for the United States, and approval for its actions is a manifestation of that sympathy.

Meanwhile, 3% of respondents say that what the Americans are doing is justified vengeance - "their cause is right".

However, 2% of respondents are convinced that the nations supporting the United States are doing so for material gain ("they're being paid for it, they're doing it for money").

There has recently been much talk of the differences between civilizations, and the existence of a "civilized world" and an "uncivilized world". The poll asked whether people believe in categorizing nations as "civilized" or "uncivilized"; and if so, what criteria ought to be used?

Results indicate that 49% of respondents accept a distinction between civilized and uncivilized nations. These respondents were then asked to explain where the distinctions lie.

Around 21% believe it's a matter of the level of economic development and living standards; 18% see differences in the level of culture, science, and education; 4% say the difference lies in state legislation and law-abiding behavior by citizens. Another 4% believe it's a matter of civil rights and civil liberties, and 4% say it's the overall level of development of societies. Around 2% see the distinction in stability, and 2% see it in the methods used to resolve conflicts ("the uncivilized world has wars").

Respondents named certain nations as being "civilized": the United States (33%), Germany (21%), France (16%), Japan (15%), Britain (14%), and some others. And 19% of respondents say that "all the developed capitalist nations" should be on the list.

Nations described as "uncivilized" include: Afghanistan (15%), Russia - strangely enough (14%), Pakistan (4%), Iran (2%), Iraq (2%), China (2%). Around 13% of respondents say that "all African nations" should be considered uncivilized; 3% named nations in Asia, 3% named CIS nations, 2% named nations in the Middle East, and 2% named nations in the Americas.

Interestingly, Russia appeared on both lists; but twice as many respondents (14%) classified it as "uncivilized", rather than "civilized" (6%).

Only 17% of respondents said they objected to the very idea of dividing nations into "civilized" and "uncivilized".

(Translated by Kirill Frolov)

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