Wednesday, April 30, 2014

isolationist America?

No. Don't believe what you read today. The Wall Street Journal frontpages its latest poll, citing one question as decisive and concluding

Americans Want to Pull Back From World Stage, Poll Finds

Wait a minute. What their survey showed was that 47% of the people wanted a "less active" foreign policy, compared with 14% just after the 9/11 attacks.

Other surveys, such as the regular ones by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, show strong support for international engagement -- percentages in the 70s throughout the post-9/11 decade. If the question is worded whether the US should be world policeman, however, you get 70% disagreement.

What's happened is that the American public has soured on foreign military adventures, worries about the rise of China and the threat of nuclear proliferation, is conflicted about the benefits of economic globalization, but still sees the importance of an active role in world affairs and international institutions. That's a balanced and prudent judgment, not a retreat into isolationism.

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