by Henry Olsen, EPPC, October 15, 2019 The Washington Post
Trump’s rash decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria has received harsh criticism from the foreign policy establishment of both parties. That blowback may lead him to reconsider his decision. But if he doesn’t, don’t expect him to lose much voter support over it.
Americans are not focused on foreign policy right now. They do focus on it when American lives are directly threatened, as many perceived was the case a few years back when the Islamic State was growing and terrorist attacks around the globe were frequently in the news. But that’s not the case today. A recent Economist/You Gov poll asked voters about 15 issues, including the war in Afghanistan and foreign policy more broadly. Both were listed by a mere 1 percent as their most important priority, tied for last among all the issues polled.
Voters are also not especially favorable to U.S. involvement in conflicts such as the one in Syria when they do think about foreign policy. The Center for American Progress recently released a comprehensive poll detailing voter attitudes about U.S. foreign policy. The results should worry backers of the foreign policy status quo.
The poll shows significant support for arguments the president has used previously to justify his departures from traditional foreign policy goals. Only 45 percent strongly agreed with the statement that the United States has “a duty to engage in world affairs and help our allies maintain safety and security.” A mere 35 percent strongly agreed that “maintaining an active military presence in other countries is necessary to … protect our people”. And 52 percent strongly agreed with the statement that “we should focus more on helping people here at home instead of getting involved in trying to help people in other parts of the world.”
Republican voters in particular were likelier to agree with more Trumpian views toward foreign policy. Sixty-two percent of Republicans strongly agreed with the statement that we should focus more on people at home. A whopping 74 percent of Republicans — joined by 55 percent of independents — strongly agree that “other countries should pay more for their own security needs and stop expecting the United States to be the world’s policeman.” Only 43 percent of Republicans strongly agree that the United States should help its allies maintain their security, and only 36 percent strongly agree that the United States has a responsibility to promote human rights and basic living standards for people no matter where they live.
READ it HERE