The Washington Times - December 3, 2009, 04:32PM

Americans are apparently getting tired of their country’s global involvement — at least more so than they have been in four decades.

According to a new poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center in Washington, both ordinary Americans and foreign-policy experts are uncertain about the United States’ role in the world.

“As President Obama seeks to expand America’s global role on issues ranging from Afghanistan to climate change, the U.S. public is turning decidedly inward. For the first time in more than 40 years of polling, a plurality (49 percent) says the United States should “mind its own business internationally” and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,” said Pew’s President Andrew Kohut.

“The quadrennial survey finds both the general public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) apprehensive and uncertain about America’s place in the world. In particular, there is considerable pessimism about prospects for long-term stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

The survey was conducted earlier this fall among 2,000 members of the public and 642 members of the CFR.

It also found that “growing numbers in both groups see the United States playing a less important role globally, while acknowledging the increasing stature of China.” In addition, “a plurality of the public now says that China, not the United States, is the world’s leading economic power.”

“But the public takes a less benign view of China’s rise than do members” of the CFR, the Pew Center said. “A majority of the public (53 percent) continues to see China’s emerging power as a major threat to the U.S.; just 21 percent of CFR members express that view, down from 38 percent in 2001. Moreover, most Council members (58 percent) predict that China will be a more important U.S. ally in the future — up from 31 percent in 2005.”