Poll: Americans want administration to mind its own business

Pew Research Center survey finds that on most foreign policy matters, the American people are on Obama's side.

Obama in New York 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Obama in New York 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
WASHINGTON – Americans want their government to mind its own business on the world stage.
By a large margin, they favor peaceful solutions to world crises over engaging in military conflict.
They see global markets as less threatening to the American worker than they did before the financial crisis of 2008.
These are the findings of a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan surveying firm, and the Council on Foreign Relations, released on Tuesday.
On most foreign policy matters, the American people are on their president’s side.
They support US President Barack Obama for his anti terrorism policy. They support his competitive engagement with foreign economies.
But on some of the bigger picture issues, the president and his people diverge.
Chalk it up to a change in priorities.
“Views of US global importance and power have passed a key milestone,” the report finds, “for the first time in surveys dating back nearly 40 years, a majority (53 percent) says the US plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.”
That includes matters concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran – a government the American people still deeply distrust, but nevertheless seem keen to make peace with.
The Pew survey was conducted before the Geneva deal was reached at the end of November, but found that only 33% of Americans trust that the Iranian government is serious about addressing international concerns over its controversial nuclear program.
And yet, after the agreement was reached, another survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, found that the majority of Americans who had heard enough about the interim deal to have an opinion strongly support it.
Of course, that majority – 53% – only counts Americans in the know. Forty-one percent openly admitted that they have not paid attention to the saga with Iran, and did not have any strong feelings on the matter either way.
“The danger for the world is that the United States, after a decade of war – rightly concerned about issues back home and aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world – may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill,” US President Barack Obama said at the UN General Assembly in September of this year.
“I believe such disengagement would be a mistake,” he said, “I believe America must remain engaged for our own security. But I also believe the world is better for it.”