4 December 2013, 17:47

Majority of Americans believe US global power is in decline

 Majority of Americans believe US global power is in decline

According to latest research, a national support for US global engagement reached historically low level recently. The public thinks that the nation does too much to solve world problems, and increasing percentages want the US to “mind its own business internationally” and pay more attention to problems here at home.

The latest edition of the Pew Research Center's "America’s Place in the World" quadrennial survey finds that for the first time in nearly 40 years a majority of the American public says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.

Currently, 52% say the United States “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.”

Just 38% disagree with the statement. This is the most unilateral balance in favor of the US “minding its own business” in the nearly 50-year history of the measure.

The survey of the general public, conducted from October 30 until November 6 among 2,003 adults, finds that views of US global importance and power have passed a key milestone.

For the first time in surveys dating back nearly 40 years, a majority (53%) says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.

The share saying the US is less powerful has increased 12 points since 2009 and has more than doubled – from just 20% – since 2004.

Even larger majority says the US is losing respect internationally. Fully 70% say the United States is less respected than in the past, which nearly matches the level reached late in former President George W. Bush’s second term (71% in May 2008).

Foreign policy, running by Barack Obama's administration, has become a target of substantial criticism. By a 56% to 34% margin more disapprove than approve of his handling of foreign policy. The public also disapproves of his handling of Syria, Iran, China and Afghanistan by wide margins.

After the recent flurry with US military action against Syria, the NATO mission in Libya and outstretched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, about half of Americans (51%) say the United States does too much in helping solve world problems.

When those people were asked to describe in their own words why they feel this way, nearly half (47%) say problems at home, including the economy, should get more attention.

Voice of Russia, Pew Research Center

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