Thursday, November 17, 2005

Poll: More Americans want off world stage

This is an interesting poll off CNN.Com:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The public's belief that the United States should mind its own business internationally has reached levels not seen since after the Cold War ended more than a decade ago, a poll has found.

Opinion leaders from various parts of society also are less likely to feel the United States should be the most assertive of the leading nations, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The poll, sponsored this year by Pew and the Council on Foreign Relations, has been conducted by Pew every four years since 1993.

Anxiety about the war in Iraq is likely a big reason for the shift in attitudes.

"What's striking is the common thread, both the opinion leaders favoring a less assertive role for the United States and the public's isolationist views," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. "This particular period of time marks a transition from the post-9/11 era."

So the American public wants to retreat back into isolationism. I'm not sure I like the idea of the U.S. pulling back to mind its own business any more than I like the neocons proclaiming American imperialism. The United States needs to strike a balance in its foreign policy. The U.S. needs to continue working with other nations in developing multilateral agreements on a wide range of international issues. We need to continue working within international organizations--not as a self-proclaimed leader pushing our military and economic weight around--but rather quietly, diplomatically. We need to understand it is not our right to push ourselves into other nation's internal affairs where we have no business--such as Iraq. And yet, when there are events within a nation that prompt a world outcry against that nation--such as the racial genocide in the Dafur region of the Sudan--we need to take the lead in developing solutions to solve these crisis. I know this is contradictory. Guess what, international relations is full of contradictions. The United States needs to walk a centrist line regarding its foreign policy and international relations. We need to let the world's nations go about their own business in peace, and yet keep a watchful eye on threats to our own interests. We need to understand that other nations have self-interests that are completely opposite of our own. We need to find common solutions, and common grounds when our self-interests contradicts those of other nations. And when the world is faced with a major crisis, then we need to use our power to take a stand on principles--to defend this world against these threats. It is a fine line that the U.S. must walk between isolationism and activism.

We need to return to that fine line.


aj said...

First time @ your blog. I would agree with you that our economic interests-I would say global commerce- needs to be addressed. I acknowledge you are more knowing than I in the area of economics, but the question remains: Is it not a logical assumption given the direction NAFTA-CAFTA has taken, to eventually destroy what the middle class earns, giving way eventually to only an MBA being hired at the local Wal-Mart to greet shoppers with a smile?
It is looking more and more that we NEED an isolationalist economy. It can be done in theory, and with advanced sciences/tech still entering in the country(providing ALL the profits stay IN the country).
My 2 cents.

Eric A Hopp said...

AJ: Thank you for commenting on my blog. First, I would like to say that I don't believe in an isolationist economy. On the contrary, I believe in free and unfettered trade between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Free trade means that we can export to the world, the products and services that we can specialize produce, at the lowest cost, in exchange for importing goods. A simplified example would be that we can produce and export drugs to the world, due to our more highly trained and productive labor force and capital. In exchange for exporting drugs, we would import televisions--which can be manufactured cheaply--from another country which has cheaper and less specialized labor force. In one sense, we are manufacturing televisions for our population--only difference is that we're building televisions through a circular route of producing drugs first exporting them to another country (Which may not have the specialised labor force needed to manufacture drugs), then buying televisions from that country. This is the theory of comparative advantage, introduced by David Ricardo.

I will agree that globalisation will cause problems, as companies in the U.S. shed off their unproductive workers through outsourcing. This is a serious problem, the cost of which American companies have not had to incur. And as globalisation continues, with more Americans being thrown out of work, you can expect a political backlash against both the government and companies. We're talking protectionist trade practices here--not a good thing. I don't know what the answer is regarding outsourcing. I would say that both the companies and the government are going to have to come up with some program or policy to help retrain American workers in more highly specialized and highly valued skills, in order to compete in the world market. And both the government and companies are going to have to help pay for the costs of this retraining.

We have to address this issue soon.