In comments yesterday we had a discussion of Americans’ view of foreign policy. Some held the position that Americans were strongly interventionist. I hold the view that there’s a sharp divide between American public opinion and our foriegn policy positions. What I said in response to the claim that in dealing with the rest of the world Americans believe they’re on a mission was:
That is a strain of American thought but it’s not the only strain. I don’t even think it is the most numerous strain but it’s the view held by a lot of American elites.
Here’s how IR scholar Dan Drezner characterized the situation:
A recurring theme among those who study public opinion has been that there’s a foreign policy disconnect between Washington elites and the rest of the country — the former is far more enthusiastic about liberal internationalism than the latter.
Here’s the Gallup Organization’s most recent findings:
and here are Pew’s
These are not interventionist priorities, whether liberal interventionist or neoconservative. If these views represent the desire of most Americans for some sort of mission, I’m not sure what it would be. The most significant objectives I see there are defense of the country and the pursuit of economic goals. There is, clearly, a strain of American opinion that longs for broader goals. But it’s a string of opinion not the majority of American opinion.