Most Americans want less foreign involvement, polls show – latimes.com
WASHINGTON — President Obama and Mitt Romney agreed strongly in their third and final debate that the United States needed to vigorously expand its leadership role in a dangerous world, pressing its economic interests, using its military when necessary and spreading its values.
But most Americans apparently don’t agree.
Polls show that after a decade of two wars and a brutal recession, most Americans have grown deeply skeptical of the benefits of the global leadership role that the president and the Republican challenger, backed by the foreign policy establishment, insist is the nation’s wisest course and destiny.
Though few Americans want to turn their backs on global crises, they are increasingly doubtful that an America that’s always in the lead benefits them or the rest of the world, the polls show.
“There’s dramatically more isolationist sentiment than there’s been for some time,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, which conducts extensive opinion polls.
Kohut compared the current mood to periods after World War I, the Vietnam War and the Cold War, when many Americans demanded sharp cuts in military spending and fewer foreign adventures. Though Americans want the nation to lead the world, they’re more focused on challenges on the home front.
Political leaders “are not nearly as cautious as people would like them to be on foreign involvements,” said Christopher Preble, foreign policy director at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington that advocates a more limited U.S. role abroad. “The gap is considerable.”