New Study Reveals Most Americans Remain Committed to Steady Internationalism Despite Frustration Over Iraq War

Asians Comfortable With Rising China, But Still Want U.S. in Region Despite

Low Trust; Americans See China Catching Up With U.S. Economically But Don't

Favor Trying to Stop It

Oct 11, 2006, 01:00 ET from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

    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.
     Global Challenges
     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