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Americans are changing their tune on foreign policy

Published: Saturday, Aug. 30 2014 5:33 p.m. MDT

Updated: Saturday, Aug. 30 2014 5:33 p.m. MDT

A Kurdish peshmerga fighter carries his weapon walks onto his base, where two flags of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are seen on a building, right, and water tower, left, at the front line with the al-Qaida-inspired militants in Tuz Khormato, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the oil rich province of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

Hussein Malla, Associated Press

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President Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in 2009 on a wave of anti-interventionist fervor.

"If we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do," he said during his campaign for the presidency.

For much of Obama's tenure, the public has largely agreed with him. Even when the president's overall approval rating dipped, Americans historically have approved of his approach overseas.

In 2011, for example, 58 percent of Americans told the Pew Research Center they thought the U.S. should "pay less attention to problems overseas." That same year, Americans showed a growing disapproval for Obama's domestic policies, but 63 percent of those polled by Gallup said they approved of his handling of terrorism, and 52 percent approved of his policies in Iraq.

But with growing instability abroad — particularly in Iraq and Ukraine — Americans are changing their tune on foreign policy.

"As the public’s views of global threats have changed, so, too, have opinions about America’s role in solving world problems," Pew said in a report published on Thursday. "More continue to think the United States does too much, rather than too little, to help solve world problems," the report explains. "But the share saying the U.S. does too little to address global problems has nearly doubled" since 2013.

The poll, which was conducted jointly with USA Today, also found that 48 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is less important as a world leader than it was 10 years ago.

Obama also continues to take a hit, as the poll shows 54 percent of Americans believe he is "not tough enough" on national security, a stat that is up 3 percentage points from last year's poll.

JJ Feinauer is a Web producer for Moneywise and Opinion on DeseretNews.com. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: jjfeinauer.

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