Public Opinion And Defence

Authored by: Bastian Giegerich

Routledge Handbook Of Defence Studies

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138122505
eBook ISBN: 9781315650463
Adobe ISBN:


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The chapter reviews the question of whether democratic control of defence policy can be effective, before turning to the issue of public support for military operations. It suggests that public support for operations is dependent on the perceived success of military action and a judgement of costs relative to the importance of the mission. Drawing on recent polling data, the article sheds light on the attitudes prevalent in European countries regarding the use of military force and paints a picture of the shape and scope of the public mandate for the use of armed forces. Public opinion is unlikely to emerge as the overriding factor in determining government policy when it comes to the use of force, but it can be expected to influence how military operations are debated, justified and explained. Public opinion can be both a resource and a constraint for policy-makers in defence.

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