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

But global trade still gets a nod.


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:

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.