It’s complicated: The public is weary of the U.S. role as the world’s policeman, but it also frets about the nation’s declining prestige on the global stage and disapproves of both President’s foreign policy practices and any attempts at nation building overseas. Yet Americans approve of aggressive participation in the world economy and favor drones in the military arsenal.
A wide-ranging Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday reveals that 53 percent of Americans say the U.S. is “less important and powerful” than it was a decade ago, a sentiment shared by 74 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats. Another 70 percent say the U.S. is less respected by other countries than in the past; 80 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats agree.
Few want the U.S. to be a wuss, however; 56 percent say the U.S. should attempt to remain the planet’s only “superpower”; 63 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats agree. And for good measure, more than two-thirds of the public overall say that America remains the world’s leading military power, while a mere 14 percent cited China.
But on to further complexities: 52 percent say the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally and other countries get along the best they can”; 53 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats agree. This is the highest percentage for this critical sentiment, Pew says, in 40 years. Meanwhile, 77 percent of Americans also say that growing trade and business ties globally is “good for the U.S.”; 74 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Democrat agree.
And about those drones: Half of the overall public say military drones have made America safer. And another 53 percent disapprove of Mr. Obama’s job performance in foreign policy.
And more findings from this 110-page survey:
83 percent of Americans say protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks should be a top foreign policy priority.
81 percent say protecting the jobs of American workers is a top policy priority.
73 percent say preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction is a top priority.
61 percent say reducing dependence on imported energy sources is a top priority.
57 percent cite combating international drug trafficking, 48 percent cite reducing illegal immigration.
37 percent cite addressing global climate change, 33 percent cite defending human rights in other countries.
23 percent cite improving living standards overseas, 18 percent cite promoting democracy in other nations.
Source: Pew Research Center’s America’s Place in the World survey of 2,003 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 6 and released Tuesday.