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4 Dec, 2013 07:50

US global power at 40-year low, Americans say

US global power at 40-year low, Americans say

A majority of Americans believe their country is weaker on the global scene than it was a decade ago, according to a Pew poll. The 53 percent figure is the highest since the polling agency started asking the question in 1974.

It was also the first time in almost 40 years that more than half of Americans have viewed their nation’s global standing in such a pessimistic way. Back in 2004 the figure was a mere 20 percent.

America is also less respected globally than it was in the past, say 70 percent of the people surveyed, which nearly matches the level of 71 percent reached in May 2007 in the late months of President George W. Bush’s second term.

Accordingly, the US public’s support for meddling in foreign affairs is almost at a historic low, with 52 percent of Americans saying that the country should “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,” as opposed to just 38 percent who disagree with the statement. The balance is the most lopsided in favor of the isolationistic world view in nearly 50 years, the Pew report says.

The Obama administration’s handling of foreign crises is viewed with criticism by 56 percent of those polled, while 34 percent said they approve of it more than disapprove. Terrorism is the only major issue where approval surpasses disapproval.

Washington’s tackling of terrorism is approved by 51 percent of Americans and disapproved by 44 percent. It also remains the top concern for the public, with 83 percent giving it the highest priority among foreign policy goals.

But the attitude to Obama’s performance on other foreign policy issues, from Iran to immigration to climate change, is negative. The surveys however were completed before an intermediate nuclear with Iran was signed last month. Obama “is not tough enough” on foreign policy, believe 51 percent of Americans. 

The political skepticism is balanced out by economic optimism. Fully 77 percent of Americans say business ties with foreign countries is at least somewhat good for the US. Just 18 percent see foreign trade as bad for America. Support for dealing with foreign nations economically has increased 24 points since 2008, when the recession started.

Pew’s ‘America’s Place in the World’ survey of the general public was conducted between October 30 and November 6 among 2,003 adults.