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Debating National Security

The Public Dimension


Hans Rattinger and Don Munton

The nature of security in the contemporary world is changing rapidly. Superpower detente, the progress and further prospects of arms control, the collapse of East European communist regimes, and German unification, to name but the most spectacular features, present unprecedented challenges not only for political decision-makers, but also for the mass publics in democratic societies. What are the trends of public opinion on these issues and how do they reflect these changes? By what factors are pertinent public attitudes shaped and what structures do emerge? How can they be reliably assessed and meaningfully analyzed? Which demands flow from the dynamics of public opinion that have to be taken into account in security policy making? These are the key questions addressed by the twelve contributions to this volume. Combining longitudinal and comparative approaches they cover the public dimension of the national security debate in seven Western nations: Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States.
Contents: Perceptions of threat in Israel - Japanese opinions from defeat to success - British perceptions of the superpowers - American images of the Soviet Union - Economic threat and military spending in the U.S. security debate - Public attitudes toward American foreign policy since Vietnam - Attitudes on security in the Netherlands - German perceptions of Nato and the Warsaw Pact - The transformation of the West Germany security debate - The development and structure of West German public opinion on security - Changing security attitudes in Germany, Britain, and Canada - Interpreting public opinion on foreign and security policy.