Public Opinion and International Intervention


Public Opinion and International Intervention

Lessons from the Iraq War

Edited by Richard Sobel, Peter Furia, and Bethany Barratt

322 pages


May 2012


$60.00 Add to Cart

May 2012


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Rarely has a foreign policy event spawned such interest in international public opinion as has the Iraq War. What does this war indicate about the extent to which public opinion influences foreign policy leaders? Have leaders’ decisions about participating in the Iraq Coalition reflected the willingness of their citizens to do so? Are leaders of some countries more responsive to public opinion than others?The editors address these questions using select case studies that explore the extent to which leaders and people in democracies that are capable of participating in the Iraq War Coalition have willingly done so. Each chapter is based on the premise that democracies are most responsive to public opinion and that the wealthiest democracies would be most capable, though not necessarily most willing, to participate in the Iraq War.The editors have assembled contributions that build on the successful model of Richard Sobel’s International Public Opinion and the Bosnia Crisis. In this Iraq volume, leading scholars debate the role of public opinion in particular countries’ decisions to participate—or not—in an international conflict, making it an essential text for any foreign policy course.

Author Bio

RICHARD SOBEL has pioneered research on public opinion and foreign policy. He has taught at Princeton, Smith, Harvard, and Northwestern, and been a Fellow at Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard’s Kennedy School, and Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School. His books include The Impact of Public Opinion on U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam (Oxford Univesity Press, 2001).


"Public opinion matters. Even autocrats are learning they cannot be totally contemptuous of popular sentiment. In democracies, the subject of the articles in this volume, public opinion and those who measure it, cannot drive policy decisions, but they are vital to the process. The editors and authors have produced a valuable guide to understanding of the interplay between what the people think and feel, and how policies are made."—John Zogby, founder of the Zogby Poll and author of The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream

"This book is a splendid example of the globalization of scholarship. The authors carefully examine public opinion on the Iraq War in twelve countries, and the editors masterfully integrate and synthesize the results of these country-level studies. We gain notable insight into the dynamics of public opinion on this important international conflict."—Tom W. Smith, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Society, NORC at the University of Chicago

"With the expansion of democracy in the post–Cold War world and new pressures for international intervention in foreign crises, public opinion and its constraint on governments have become of increasing interest and concern worldwide. The editors of this volume have most ably assembled a set of chapters that capture the importance—and complexity—of this by bringing into the picture not only the publics of the United States and the allies it has counted on in the past, but also India, Turkey, and Mexico."—Robert Y. Shapiro, professor of political science, Columbia University, and author of The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences