WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite ongoing concern over the
war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism, Americans continue to support U.S.
international engagement, according to a new U.S. and international public
opinion study released today by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
(founded as The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations).
Other key survey findings include:
* Americans are fairly comfortable with the rise of China though they
believe China is on the way to catching up with the U.S. economically;
* Americans favor a friendly approach to China rather than an effort to
prevent it from growing in wealth and power; and,
* Asians, including Indians, South Koreans, and Australians, are also
quite comfortable with the rise of China. However, these countries and
the Chinese still want the U.S. to remain engaged in Asia though they
express low trust in the U.S. to act responsibly.
"The survey findings couldn't be clearer -- Americans do not want to
retreat to an isolationist foreign policy," said Marshall M. Bouton,
President of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "Americans understand
that China and India are rising economic and political forces and want the
U.S. government to choose engagement."
The study, which the Council conducts biennially, was conducted in
partnership with the Asia Society. In addition to polling in the United
States, the study included groundbreaking in-depth nationally
representative polls of China and India as well as parallel surveys in
South Korea done in conjunction with the East Asia Institute, and in
Australia in conjunction with the Lowy Institute on International Policy.
Strong American Commitment to Internationalism
While many observers have anticipated a move towards isolationism in
the wake of America's difficulties in Iraq, this does not appear to be the
case. Americans are frustrated about Iraq: majorities say that the war has
not reduced the threat of terrorism (61 percent), that it will not lead to
the spread of democracy in the Middle East (64 percent), that the war has
worsened America's relations with the Muslim world (66 percent), and that
the experience should make the U.S. more cautious about using military
force in the future (66 percent).
Nonetheless, 69 percent say that the U.S. should play an active part in
the world-unchanged from 2004. On a variety of questions ranging from
support for having military bases overseas to the types of goals Americans
support for U.S. foreign policy, there is no indication of any new
isolationist reaction. Three out of four worry that the U.S. plays the role
of world policeman more than it should, but equally large numbers support
various forms of international engagement for the U.S., especially ones
that involve multilateral action.
Among foreign policy priorities, only 17% of Americans describe
spreading democracy abroad as a very important foreign policy goal, ranking
last of a list of 12 foreign policy priorities. Scoring substantially
higher were the goals of protecting American jobs (76% very important),
which continues to be the single most identified objective, preventing the
spread of nuclear weapons (74 percent), fighting international terrorism
(72 percent) and securing adequate energy supplies (72 percent).
The Rise of China and India
In both China and India, the public view their countries as important
and rising powers. In China, a very large majority is enthusiastic about
playing an active role in world affairs (87 percent) and 9 in 10 favor
China becoming more powerful economically and militarily. Chinese see
themselves as the second greatest power in the world today and becoming the
equal of the U.S. within ten years. Seventy eight percent see their
governmental structure as an economic advantage
In India, most also would like to see their country play a greater role
in world affairs than it currently does (56 percent favor an active role),
although Indians are less ambitious about this than the Chinese. A majority
of Indians also welcome stronger economic and military roles for their
country (63 percent and 65 percent), but not as enthusiastically as the
Majorities in all surveyed countries believe that at some future point
the U.S. will be either equaled or surpassed by another country in power.
Sixty one percent of Americans believe that China will ultimately catch up
with the U.S. economically as do 60 percent of South Koreans and 50 percent
of Chinese. Indians are more doubtful (just 22 percent). But Americans also
seem to accept the rise of China: 54 percent think it would be equally
positive and negative if China's economy became as large as the U.S.
economy and only 29 percent say that the U.S. should actively work to limit
the growth of China's power. Sixty five percent favor friendly cooperation
and engagement with China.
Americans, however, distinguish clearly between rising Chinese economic
power, with which they are comfortable, and military power, with which they
are less comfortable (75 percent believe it would be mainly negative if
China became significantly more powerful militarily). Eighty-eight percent
of Americans and South Koreans and 72 percent of Indians think the growth
of Chinese military power will be a potential source of conflict between
major powers in Asia.
Even as China is perceived as rising, the U.S. is still considered the
most important player in the world today and for the near future. While
Asians would like to see U.S. influence reduced somewhat, they still want
the U.S. to play a major role in the Asia and in the world as a whole.
However, only 35 percent of Chinese and 39 percent of Indians trust the
U.S. to act responsibly in the world.
Americans and Asians show substantial concern about climate change.
Growing numbers of Americans (46 percent) see global warming as a critical
threat to U.S. vital interests, up 9 percent since 2004, and Americans show
increased readiness to take steps to deal with global warming even if there
are significant costs. Chinese and Indians also express readiness to limit
the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions and to require enforcement of
environmental standards as part of trade agreements.
All countries polled show remarkably high levels of support for a
number of steps to strengthen the UN, including giving it the authority to
investigate human rights violations, creating a marshal service to arrest
leaders accused of genocide, giving it the power to regulate the
international arms trade and maintaining its own standing peacekeeping
All countries polled also believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons
and are concerned but no country favors taking military action without UN
approval (only 18% of Americans favor a military strike even if the U.S.
has to act on its own).
The potential for disruption in energy supply ranks near the top of the
list of critical threats in all countries surveyed except India. Securing
adequate supplies of energy is also considered a very important foreign
policy goal by majorities in all these countries. Americans, South Koreans,
Chinese and Indians say competition over vital energy resources like oil
and gas will be a somewhat or very likely source of conflict between major
powers in Asia in the future.
On human rights, most Americans, Indians and Chinese think the UN
Security Council should have the right to authorize force to prevent severe
human rights violations such as genocide. And all agree that the U.N.
Security Council has the responsibility to intervene in the Darfur region
of the Sudan. Americans also indicate they are willing to use U.S. troops
to stop genocide and deal with humanitarian crises, including Darfur.
For more information on this survey, please visit
About Chicago Council on Global Affairs
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922 as The Chicago
Council on Foreign Relations, is a leading independent, nonpartisan
organization committed to influencing the discourse on global issues
through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue,
and public learning. The Chicago Council recently announced its plans to
greatly expand its contributions to opinion and policy making on issues of
national and international importance, and changed its name to "The Chicago
Council on Global Affairs" to reflect this increased range and relevance.
SOURCE The Chicago Council on Global Affairs