As President Barack Obama rallies public support for his decision to send reinforcements to Afghanistan, isolationist currents are being felt in opinion polls on a scale not seen in a number of years. According to a poll commissioned by the Pew Research Center, 49 percent of Americans think the U.S. “should mind its own business” in its dealings with world affairs and “to let others get along on their own.” The figure represents an increase from 30 percent in December 2002.
Just 32 percent of respondents expressed support for the president’s decision to deploy more forces to Afghanistan, while 40 percent agreed that the president should begin to wind down the U.S. military presence in the country.
In addition, 46 percent said the Afghan government needs to prove itself capable of neutralizing the threat posed by radical Islamists.
Forty-one percent of those polled said they felt the U.S. was fulfilling a less central role as the world superpower in comparison to ten years ago.
The survey’s authors said the economic crisis was the likely factor contributing to the increasing isolationist sentiment in U.S. public opinion.
Americans are also displeased with a situation whereby U.S. troops are waging two simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among those polled, 44 percent were convinced that China is the leading global economic power today. Just 27 percent said the U.S. was the top economic giant.
As for the Middle East, 51 percent of respondents said they viewed Israel more favorably than the Palestinians, while 12 percent said they had greater sympathy for the Palestinians. About one-fifth of those polled said they had no opinion on the matter.
The poll reflects a sampling of 2,000 participants who completed the survey between October 28 and November 8 of this year.