News

    Poll Shows US Isolationist Sentiment Growing

    A new opinion poll shows the American public growing more isolationist and less supportive of U.S. missions abroad.

    U.S troops stationed in Afghanistan (File)
    U.S troops stationed in Afghanistan (File)

    A new opinion poll shows the American public growing more isolationist, less supportive of U.S. missions abroad, less certain of American clout on the world stage and more concerned about rising economic powers like China.  Analysts say the survey numbers present a challenge for President Barack Obama as he tries to rally the nation in support of a troop surge in Afghanistan.

    Isolationist sentiment is on the rise in the United States, according to a poll conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.  Forty-nine percent of Americans, the survey says, believe the United States should "mind its own business" and let other nations get along on their own.  That is up from 30 percent in 2002.

    "The American public is focused on a bad economy and also feeling badly about the world," said Pew President Andrew Kohut.  "There are two wars that the public thinks are not going well [Iraq and Afghanistan]."

    Rising isolationism does not surprise Council on Foreign Relations Studies director James Lindsay.

    "When the economy dips, so does the public's enthusiasm for activity abroad," he said.  "The public understandably wants its politicians to worry about fixing problems at home and is less worried about fixing problems overseas."

    Lindsay says a growing preoccupation with domestic concerns has implications for U.S. foreign policy in general and President Obama's new Afghan war strategy, in particular.

    "The president is sailing into a stiff wind," added Lindsay.

    Recent public opinion surveys have shown declining support for sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.  The Pew poll, conducted before President Obama's Afghan strategy announcement this week, shows only 32 percent backing for an expanded U.S. military mission.

    Kohut says Americans are increasingly skeptical about U.S. intervention abroad.

    "We had eight years of an assertive national foreign policy [under former President George W. Bush]. And that foreign policy, in the end, was judged to be unsuccessful," he said.  "Coming away from an experience like that, it would lead some Americans to believe that we are going to play a less influential, less powerful role in the world."

    And which nations do Americans see as filling the vacuum created by a perceived loss of U.S. clout on the world stage?

    "The public takes a less-benign view of China's rise.  Fifty-three percent [of Americans] see it as a threat, its emerging power as a threat to the United States," said Kohut.  "Although it is not really a negative attitude towards China, there is worry.  And, more dramatically, for the first time a plurality of Americans think that China - not the United States - is the world's leading economic power."

    But if such pessimism and isolationist instincts are fed by current U.S. economic troubles, could an economic recovery reverse the trend?

    "What bad economic times can take away, it can give back.  And if the American economy turns around and we see a sustained period of economic growth, I would expect to see these poll numbers change yet again," said Lindsay.

    American public opinion also appears to be diverging from that of U.S. foreign policy experts.  A recent poll of 600 members of the Council on Foreign Relations, or CFR, shows 50 percent backing for a troop surge in Afghanistan, and 58 percent listing China as an important future U.S. ally.  Seventy-eight percent of CFR members see China as a minimal threat or no threat at all to the United States.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora