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Poll Finds Americans Losing Confidence in Military Solutions to Crises


A new poll shows that declining American public support for the war in Iraq is leading to an increasingly negative public opinion of resorting to military force to settle global conflicts. The findings come in the fourth survey conducted jointly by the non-profit organization Public Agenda and Foreign Affairs, one of America's most influential publications on foreign policy. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

Public Agenda's president, Ruth Wooden, said the latest survey results show what she described as a public "crisis of confidence" in the current direction of U.S. foreign policy.

She said the main finding was the so-called anxiety indicator, which is a composite of answers to five different questions. "For example, 84 percent are worried about the way things are going for the United States in world affairs. Eighty-two percent say the world is becoming more dangerous for the United States, 73 percent say the United States is not doing a good job as a leader in creating a more peaceful, prosperous world, and 68 percent believe the rest of the world sees the United States negatively. Actually, one third, 34 percent, say very negatively. And 67 percent, two out of three, say that U.S. relations with the rest of world are on the wrong track," he said.

She called the current anxiety indicator "very high" at 137 points, out of a total possible 200 points.

An overwhelming number of the people polled linked the U.S. image around the world to global security. They urged the United States to improve its reputation by taking a more positive leadership role in issues like reducing global warming and controlling diseases.

Wooden says the survey specifically shows that Americans are strongly opposed to using military force around the world.

As an example of this, she said only eight percent of the respondents supported possible military action against Iran. At the same time, 70 percent of the respondents favor a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq within 12 months.

Meanwhile, the survey finds that three out of four Americans are increasingly concerned about nuclear proliferation. "When asked about foreign policy priorities that they believe should drive policy in the United States, the public put preventing the spread of nuclear weapons at the very top of the list," he said.

The managing editor of Foreign Affairs, Gideon Rose, called the results "striking" for the future of U.S. foreign policy. "This is fascinating to me, because again it represents a kind of loss of trust in its own executive branch, and it may well constrain, not just the Bush administration, but also some future administrations for some time," he said.

The Public Agenda - Foreign Affairs poll was based on interviews conducted about one month ago with more than 1,000 adults around the country. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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