Thursday, October 19, 2006


Generally speaking, most politicians make the mistake of thinking the American public is stupid, naive, and totally uninterested in foreign affairs. A recent poll should dispell that misconception. From an AP story published in the Sacramento Bee:

Americans are anxious and frustrated over the state of U.S. foreign relations, a survey indicates, with large majorities worried that the country's foreign policy is making the world increasingly dangerous for the United States and its people.

...The indicator registered 130 on a scale of zero to 200, with zero being the most secure and 200 the most anxious.

That indicates "that apprehension and unease about the country's international position are at high levels and that the public mood may be nearing a tipping point," said veteran survey researcher Daniel Yankelovich, chairman of Public Agenda, the nonpartisan public policy institute that released the study Wednesday.

These are some of the survey's findings that reflect a disconnect with current U.S. government policy:

-87 percent of Americans believe the threat to national security is exacerbated when other countries and cultures view the United States in a negative light; 78 percent believe their country is seen as arrogant.

-52 percent believe democracies reduce conflict and violence, but 64 percent believe democracy can't be imposed and that countries have to be ready for it.

-20 percent think the United States can do "a lot" to nourish a democratic system in Iraq; only slightly more, or 24 percent, feel that creating democracies should be a very important goal for the United States.

On a grading system, fewer than one in three respondents gave the U.S. government an A or B in achieving its objectives in Iraq or Afghanistan; and fewer than one in four graded A or B on becoming less dependent on other countries for energy and having good relations with Muslim countries.

The survey said energy independence registered higher than any other issue on whether the government should be held accountable for its failures.

The survey seems to show that most Americans have a pretty firm grasp on what the current regime's foreign and domestic policies have resulted in. Most believe that we are less safe in the world and at home. Most believe that dependence on foreign energy has contributed to our insecurity and that our nation's leaders have failed to rectify that situation. Most believe the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are failures.

Sooner or later (preferably, sooner), American political leaders are going to have to start paying attention to the electorate. To ignore findings such as these could be hazardous to their electability.


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