Poll: Americans More Opposed to Intervening Abroad Than At Any Other Time In the Last Half Century

The Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations have released their periodic survey of American attitudes toward foreign policy. Here's how they summarize the results:

An ideal foreign policy, except for the crown.Growing numbers of Americans believe that U.S. global power and prestige are in decline. And support for U.S. global engagement, already near a historic low, has fallen further. The 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.

Yet this reticence is not an expression of across-the-board isolationism. Even as doubts grow about the United States' geopolitical role, most Americans say the benefits from U.S. participation in the global economy outweigh the risks. And support for closer trade and business ties with other nations stands at its highest point in more than a decade.

In other words, the public is pretty much getting it right, saying yes to trade but no to political and military intervention. Needless to say, this was not how things looked a decade ago. Indeed, Americans are even more sour on intervention today than they were a year after the fall of Saigon:

While 52 percent today think the U.S. "should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own," only 38 percent disagree. Pew reports that 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."

For the rest of the Pew numbers -- including an additional survey of the Council on Foreign Relations' members, who as you might expect are more enthusiastic about projecting power abroad -- go here.

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  • Hugh Akston||

    In other words, the public is pretty much getting it right, saying yes to trade but no to political and military intervention.

    So they're isolationists?

  • Restoras||

    Does not compute.

  • Swiss Servator, referendiffic!||

    Report for sarcasm meter recalibration and repair.

  • ||

    Remember, Hugh: if you don't want to kill foreigners, you hate America.

  • DJF||

    Which is why the NSA is spying on Americans.

  • Swiss Servator, referendiffic!||

    Now if we can only get the "mind your own business and leave others alone" to be said/thought/acted on domestically.....sigh.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I blame Bush!

  • creech||

    One wonders what the percent would be if the question was phrased:
    "Do you support the U.S. government sending your son or daughter to another country to have his or her head blown off in an attempt to intervene in a centuries-old tribal, religious, or boundary dispute?"

  • Dave Krueger||

    All this means is that the government will have to incite (or fabricate) a more blatant case of belligerence before they can engage in any new wars.

    For example, instead of concocting a story about how an enemy attacked a U.S. entity (like in the case of the Tonkin Gulf incident), they might actually have to show some bullet holes (like in the case of Perl Harbor).

    Actually, these days the government only has to claim that someone in another country might potentially be thinking about possibly maybe conceivably doing some harm to the U.S. or maybe just offering financial support for someone who is or maybe just offering words of encouragement to someone who has expressed a desire to avenge the death of his family in a U.S. drone attack. Or something like that.

    When a country proactively creates as many enemies as the U.S. does, it isn't hard to find a pocket of intense animosity and claim it represents a threat that needs a military solution.

  • Winston||

    So? Anti-war sentiment didn't stop FDR.

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