Towards a less activist American foreign policy
CHICAGOExcept for one of the presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the American foreign policy and strategies the candidates will adopt in dealing major global issues were nearly non-issue during a long, bitter election campaign. Which in fact not very much unexceptional; the last time foreign policy effected polls was in 1980 when Jimmy Carter lost election in the wake of his unsuccessful rescue operation for American diplomats taken hostage in Tehran. And to some margin, George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004.
The race between Obama and Romney witnessed some nasty times when two contenders attacked each other harshly and with an even bad language on almost everything but not on foreign policy.
Even the killing of the American envoy in Libya by the Islamic extremists was not brought to the election platform by Romney campaign. Similarly, Democrats did not seek to get the advantage of ending long-fight against Al Qaeda’s Osama bin Ladin and withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
One of the reasons, perhaps, is the fact more and more Americans think it would be better if the U.S. stays out of world affairs. According to a survey carried out by Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 38 percent of Americans say that the U.S. should stay out, the highest percentage recorded in any survey since 1947. The survey also notes a 10 point decline among those who believe the US should take an active role in world affairs since 2002, right after the 9/11 attacks.
While Americans see leadership as desirable, they also clearly reject the role of the U.S. as a hyperpower and want to see a more cooperative stance. 78 percent of Americans do oppose the U.S. role as the world policeman and 69 percent of them think mostly good for rising countries like Turkey and Brazil to become more independent from the U.S. in the conduct of their foreign policy.
Figures on how Americans think on the foreign policy goal are more illustrative. 83 percent of Americans believe that “protecting the jobs of American workers” should be the most important goal of the foreign policy. That follows reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil with 77 percent while helping to bring democratic form of government to other nations comes at the bottom with only 14 percent endorsement.
The report also shows that Americans are still threatened of international terrorism, of Iranian nuclear program but in a declining percentage. 73 of Americans are of the opinion that the international terrorism threat comes from the Middle East but they are overwhelmingly oppose sending troops into Syria.
One interesting detail outlined by the report is the fact these figures do not much differ between democrats and republicans, showing that internal political polarization does not reflect itself on the foreign policy at least among the voters. The sharpest difference is Democrats’ opposition to a militarily support to Israel if attacked by a third country.
In the light of this survey and campaign talking points of two politicians, one can assume that there will be no dramatic change in the U.S. foreign policy on critical issues also concerning Turkey under Obama or a less likely Romney presidency.