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US sours on global role, looks to Asia - poll

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Younger Americans are ‘comfortable’ with the Islamic world and China:

US: Eleven years after the September 11 attacks a record number in the United States want a less active global role -- and Americans for the first time see Asia as more important than Europe.

The poll by the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs found strong differences by age range, with younger Americans the most comfortable with the Islamic world and China and the least enthusiastic about the use of US force abroad.

The poll, released on the eve of the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, said 67 percent of Americans did not consider the Iraq war worth fighting and only 30 percent said that the Afghanistan intervention made the United States safer. Sixty-one percent of Americans said that the United States should take an active role in world affairs, but the 38 percent who disagreed marked the highest level taken by the Chicago Council or comparable polls since 1947.

Nonetheless, 70 percent of Americans described their country as the greatest in the world.

“There's a strong sense of specialness that Americans have and this is across generational and partisan lines,” said Marshall Bouton, president of the Chicago Council.

The dwindling support for foreign wars is “not a discouragement about the character of their nation. It's an assessment in their minds that... the United States has got to trim its sails in certain respects,” he said.

The study showed public backing for diplomacy and aid, particularly to Africa, and support for cutting military spending.

Age groups differed on key issues. Only 23 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 years old said Islamic fundamentalism would pose a critical threat over the next 10 years, far down from the 50 percent over age 60 who said so.


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