As war with Iraq approached in early 2003, Gallup asked residents of the United States, Great Britain, and Canada to consider the military strength and preparedness of their respective countries*. Perhaps not surprisingly, Americans are the most satisfied in this area, with Britons a distant second, and Canadians more dissatisfied than satisfied.
When polled in mid-January, a majority of Americans (83%) were either "very" (42%) or "somewhat" (41%) satisfied with the nation's military strength and preparedness. Polled in February and March, a smaller majority of Britons (58%) felt very (19%) or somewhat (39%) satisfied with their own military. When Gallup polled Canadians on the same topic in late January and early February, prior to the prime minister's decision not to join the "coalition of the willing," only about a third of Canadians (35%) were very (7%) or somewhat (28%) satisfied with the strength or preparedness of their military.
Conversely, in Canada, a majority of respondents (54%) are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the country's military strength and preparedness, compared with 32% in Great Britain and 14% in the United States.
In each country, there are differences in opinions on this subject according to political affiliation. In the United States, the differences are minor -- most Americans are satisfied with the country's military strength and preparedness, regardless of whether they are Republicans, Democrats, or independents.
In the Great Britain, on the other hand, supporters of the Labour Party are most satisfied with the British military's strength and preparedness at 68%, while supporters of the Conservative Party are less so, with 52% expressing satisfaction with country's military.
In Canada, supporters of the more conservative or "right wing" parties (the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance) are least satisfied with the Canadian military's strength or preparedness. Leaders of these two parties have been the most outspoken regarding Canada's reluctance to join the United States in its war effort. Supporters of the leftist party, the New Democrats, are the most satisfied with the current state of the Canadian military, along with supporters of the Bloc Quebecois. About a third of supporters of the Liberal Party, currently in power, are satisfied with the country's military strength.
Regardless of their opinions on whether their countries should engage in a war with Iraq, the majority of people in both Great Britain and America seemed confident of their nations' military prowess before the war began. Ultimately, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien made the decision not to join the allied forces without U.N. support for the military action. Although military strength and preparedness did not overtly figure into this decision, it seems that Canadians were not confident that their armed forces were prepared for military action at the time that the decision was being made.
*U.S. results are based on telephone interviews with 1,000 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 13-16, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3%.
Canadian results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of approximately 1,000 Canadian adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Feb. 3-9, 2003. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3%.
British results are based on telephone interviews conducted by the Gallup U.K. poll with 1,001 respondents, aged 18 and older, from across Great Britain, conducted Jan. 10-Mar. 5, 2003. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3%.