- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Despite concern over the war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism, Americans continue to support U.S. international engagement, according to a new survey released yesterday.

“The survey findings couldn’t be clearer — Americans do not want to retreat to an isolationist foreign policy,” said Marshall M. Bouton, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which conducted the study.

“Americans understand that China and India are rising economic and political forces and want the U.S. government to choose engagement,” Mr. Bouton said while releasing the report in Washington.

While many analysts predicted a move toward isolationism in the wake of the United States’ difficulties in Iraq, it is not the case, found the survey of nearly 8,000 people in five countries — the United States, China, India, South Korea and Australia.

Though three out of the four surveyed worried that the United States plays the role of world policeman more than it should, 69 percent supported various forms of international engagement by the United States, especially ones that involve multilateral action.

“A majority of Americans believe globalization is mostly good for the United States,” the report said. “They judge international trade as good for U.S. consumers, the U.S. economy and American companies, but bad for job creation and job security in the United States.”

The report noted that 61 percent of Americans, 60 percent of South Koreans and 50 percent of Chinese think China will catch up with the United States economically at some future point. Only 22 percent of respondents in India, China’s neighbor and regional rival, hold that view.

The study found that 87 percent of the respondents are enthusiastic about China playing an active role in world affairs, and 65 percent Americans are fairly comfortable with the rise of China.

“Americans favor a friendly approach to China rather than an effort to prevent it from growing in wealth and power,” according to the report.

The United States, however, is still considered the most important player in the world today and for the near future.

The study found that though Asians are quite comfortable with the rise of China, they — including the Chinese — still want the United States to remain engaged in the region.

“While Asians would like to see the U.S. influence reduced somewhat, they still want the United States to play a major role in Asia and in the world as a whole,” the report says.

“However, only 35 percent of Chinese and 39 percent of Indians trust the United States to act responsibly.”

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