Wednesday, March 12, 2014

American Disengagement

A few weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry spent more than 30 minutes lecturing the media at Davos
that America is not disengaging from the world. President Obama and his team have also been quick to try to counter the growing perception expressed by foreign allies and reflected in recent polls that show Americans dissatisfied with America’s position and reputation in the world.

But, after more than a decade of military engagement, there is much evidence that Americans want to lower their role in international conflicts. The latest CBS/New York Times poll (2-26-14) shows that 65 percent of Americans do not believe the U.S. should “take the leading role in solving international conflict.”

Historically, since the U.S.’s emergence as a player in the world stage, we have cycled through periods of intervention and isolation, extroversion and introversion, as reflected in the opinion of leaders and the attitudes of attentive and general publics. The Vietnam War ended the Cold War-inspired willingness to engage in expensive proxy battles with the USSR and international communism. The recent War on Terror with heavy commitments and casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan mark the latest shift to a new period of introversion.

Does the Ukrainian crisis move public opinion back from the obvious period of “standing down”? Will national security be an issue in the 2014 election? Which party will benefit, if either? It appears a serious debate over America’s role in the world will frame the 2016 presidential contest.

See The Buzz:
Obama’s foreign policy in trouble, 1-13-14
We are not disengaging, 1-30-14

No comments: