For the First Time In 50 Years, a Majority of Americans Think the U.S. Should “Mind Its Own Business”
Pew noted yesterday:
Support for U.S. global engagement, already near a historic low, has fallen further.
The [American] public thinks that the nation does too much to solve world problems, and increasing percentages want the U.S. to “mind its own business internationally” and pay more attention to problems here at home.
These are among the principal findings of America’s Place in the World, a quadrennial survey of foreign policy attitudes conducted in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a nonpartisan membership organization and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy.
The public’s skepticism about U.S. international engagement – evident in America’s Place in the World surveys four and eight years ago – has increased. Currently, 52% say the United States “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” Just 38% disagree with the statement. This is the most lopsided balance in favor of the U.S. “minding its own business” in the nearly 50-year history of the measure.
After the recent near-miss with U.S. military action against Syria, the NATO mission in Libya and lengthy wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, about half of Americans (51%) say the United States does too much in helping solve world problems, while just 17% say it does too little and 28% think it does the right amount. When those who say the U.S. does “too much” internationally are asked to describe in their own words why they feel this way, nearly half (47%) say problems at home, including the economy, should get more attention.
As we’ve reported for years, the American public is sick of war.
Pew notes that even members of the Council on Foreign Relations agree:
When asked why the public has become less supportive of global engagements, 42% of CFR members point to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or explicitly cite “war fatigue.” About a quarter (28%) mention the struggling U.S. economy or the costs of international engagement. Other factors cited are the ineffectiveness of recent U.S. interventions (mentioned by 19%) and failures of U.S. leadership (17%). (For more on how members of the Council on Foreign Relations view America’s Place in the World, see section 6).
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