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Survey: Americans believe in 'just war' but lack willingness to fight

Most Americans believe in the concept of a just war, but they are less willing to fight than several other countries, according to a global survey.

Seventy-two percent of Americans said that “under some conditions, war is necessary to obtain justice” – but only 58 percent said they would fight for their country, according to data released recently by the World Values Survey, a global network of social scientists. 

America’s belief in the notion of just war is a relatively unpopular belief among other nations.

Of 55 nations surveyed, only the following had 50 percent or more reply “yes” to the conditional necessity of war to obtain justice: Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Australia, New Zealand, Libya and Lebanon.

Of those countries whose majority answered “yes,” none showed a greater discrepancy in their affirmative response than the United States when asked, “Of course, we all hope that there will not be another war, but if it were to come to that, would you be willing to fight for your country?”

The ability to field a strong national defense appeared to have little correlation to people’s willingness to fight.

Nearly 98 percent of Qataris were willing to fight for their country, topping the poll. Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Taiwan rounded out the top five.

Japan’s recent moves to strengthen its national defense have drawn criticism from China, but pacifism remains deeply ingrained in Japanese attitudes, according to the data.

Only 15 percent of Japanese said they were willing to fight for their country, putting them last on the list and well behind Spain, which was second-to-last at 28 percent. Also among Japanese respondents, only 14 percent said they believed in the notion of a just war.

The nations surveyed included China, Russia and most of the world’s largest economies, though India and the United Kingdom were notably excluded.

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