Americans Fed Up with Neocon Wars?

Mitt Romney and other Republican presidential hopefuls (with the exception of Ron Paul) are touting tough-guy global strategies that sound like George W. Bush, circa 2002. But recent public opinion polls suggest that Americans are leery of new neocon adventures, Lawrence S. Wittner reports.

By Lawrence S. Wittner

Are American politicians out of sync with the public when it comes to foreign policy? There is considerable reason to believe so.

Throughout the scramble for the Republican presidential nomination, the major candidates have certainly been rabidly nationalistic. In a major foreign policy address on Oct. 7, 2011, Mitt Romney proclaimed that “the twenty-first century can and must be an American Century.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney

Championing a vast military buildup, he argued that, to secure this “American Century,” the United States should have “the strongest military in the world.” By contrast, he assailed the “shameful” role of the United Nations and other international institutions and declared that he did not see any reason to obey them, or the international law they represented, when it did not suit the U.S. government.

Romney’s newly-anointed top competitor, Rick Santorum, says nothing about the United Nations, international cooperation or international law in the “10 Steps to Promote Our Interests Around the World” posted on his campaign website. Instead, he argues that the United States is “intrinsically better prepared to lead than any other nation.”

The former Pennsylvania senator adds: “I truly do believe that we are ‘the last best hope of earth,’” but, alas, under President Barack Obama, “we have been weak where we should have been strong and we have been appeasing of evil.” Naturally, then in Santorum’s view, Americans should be “increasing our military preparedness.”

By contrast, polls show that most Americans favor a more cooperative world order based on international law, a stronger United Nations, and a less dominant role for the United States in world affairs.

In a World Public Opinion poll of 16 nations in 2009, 69 percent of Americans supported the view that nations are obliged to abide by international law even when doing so is at odds with their national interest.

Furthermore, a 2010 poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found 82 percent of Americans favored ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (rejected by the GOP-dominated Senate in 1999), 70 percent favored participation in the International Criminal Court (rejected by President George W. Bush), and 67 percent backed a new international treaty to combat climate change. In December 2008, a World Public Opinion poll found that 77 percent of Americans backed an international treaty abolishing nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, most Americans favor expanding the role of the United Nations in world affairs. Polling in 2010 by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that majorities of Americans favored creating a standing UN peacekeeping force (64 percent), giving the United Nations the authority to enter countries to investigate human rights violations (72 percent), creating an international marshals service with the power to arrest leaders responsible for genocide (73 percent), and empowering the United Nations to regulate the international arms trade (55 percent).

Overall, as public opinion studies show, Americans want a smaller, rather than a larger, global footprint for their nation. According to a 2010 poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, only 8 percent favored the United States playing the role of the preeminent world leader, while 71 percent favored a cooperative approach.

Gallup polls have turned up similar results. In 2011, Gallup reported that only 16 percent of Americans endorsed the option of the United States playing “the leading role” in world affairs.  According to Gallup, 32 percent of Americans favored “a minor role” or “no role” at all for the United States, while 50 percent wanted the United States to “take a major role, but not the leading one.”

Much of this opposition to U.S. dominance in the world is undoubtedly based on distaste for the overseas U.S. military intervention of the past decade. In recent years, polls have found substantial public opposition to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2010, a poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that 79 percent of Americans agreed with the statement that “the U.S. is playing the role of world policeman more than it should.”

Of course, during the frenzy of an election campaign, it is tempting to whip up nationalist sentiment through high-flying rhetoric about an “American Century” and America’s allegedly unique virtue. How many times have we heard, in these circumstances, that America is the greatest nation in the history of the world?

But, in the end, Americans might prove more committed to an internationalist policy than this year’s flag-waving politicians think.

Lawrence S. Wittner is Emeritus Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book is Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford University Press).

10 comments for “Americans Fed Up with Neocon Wars?

  1. January 19, 2012 at 21:46

    I loved History and or Social studies back in the day … but have we as a nation become comfortable with reckless spending and misappropriated taxes? I know we never ever talked about any of this when I was a kid back in the 80’s
    I hear over and over the right decry entitlements and Social security, Medicare etc.. meanwhile only 3% comes back to the Population in any form of services? it is all going directly to the interest from the fed… in other words we are just buried in debt to a shadowy quasi Government agency that has zero accountability in return … can anyone produce a list of the share Holders for the fed ?… no because it doesn’t exist and yet we are taxed to death (literally) by this cabal…

    and please, spare us the Liberal/Neocon banter … this one issue should unite each and every one of us as we all suffer it’s burden.
    abolish the IRS and The Federal reserve and lets get back to some honest fiscal responsibility….
    what say you fellow Americans…

  2. benellibart
    January 19, 2012 at 21:05

    Look at those surveys cited and then ask yourself, does the average American even have a clue what the issues or the questions entail?

  3. January 18, 2012 at 20:55

    only to have inflation result from his crooked policy. Does America risk sliding into a full-blown depression in bush’s last year as the result of his actions?

    How else was bush going to get the money for his wars? How else was he going to finance his big-government projects, like the nest of neocon nepotism known as Department of Homeland Security? He doesn’t dare ask for a tax increase. The taxpayers are already fed up with the borrow-and-spend neocons charging their excesses to America’s credit card bill.

    Bush simple-mindedly thought he could hide it by ordering the government to stop reporting the M3 money supply, but everyone knew what he was up to. It has devalued American currency to such an extent that foreign countries now mock the US dollar as “the bush peso.”

    It’s a long ways down with the debt bush accumulated. How serious is the wound, economic and political, that bush has inflicted upon America?

  4. rosemerry
    January 18, 2012 at 16:27

    These socalled Mercan -firsters are also admitted Zionist puppets. The pretence that they are christians adds to the pathetic appearance of these “candidates” for POTUS. Ignorance and hubris shine thriugh their utterances.

  5. January 18, 2012 at 13:23

    Karaoke has been popular for many years, but the increasingly enormous popularity of American Idol has sparked an even greater interest in karaoke and drawn countless new addicts to its folds. It’s been six years since the phenomenon known as Idol tapped into the airwaves and started people talking about an addictive new concept in Reality TV. And this addiction has fueled the continued addiction of many closet singers who have now come out of the closet.

  6. tired pessimist
    January 17, 2012 at 19:02

    Too bad Kucinich, who has fought valiantly on these foreign policy issues, as well as on domestic policy, where Paul is all too weak, has not thrown his hat in the ring.

  7. Coleen Rowley
    January 17, 2012 at 16:46

    The author’s main point was that the Republican politicians, with the exception of Ron Paul, are not in sync with public opinion which includes, to some degree, even their own conservative bases. The author’s point is somewhat undermined however, by the booing last night in the South Carolina debate audience when Ron Paul attempted to apply the “Golden Rule” to US foreign policy and wars.

    Additionally, the author should not have ignored the Democratic politicians, i.e. Obama, who is similarly out of sync with the citizenry in siding with the neo-cons and their wars.

    The only Presidential candidate amongst both parties who is speaking out clearly against the neo-con wars is Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul Booed by Insane South Carolina Audience for Endorsing the Golden Rule:

  8. Bob D
    January 17, 2012 at 14:58

    C’mon Liberty, it wasn’t that bad. And it certainly wasn’t disengenuous. I could see a teocon reading this article and wanting to put Lawrence Wittner on Romney’s assasination list. He does meet many of Mitt’s criterion for assasination. Especially when he spouts some of those nagging statistics. And the fact that Mitt is a Mexican American puts some doubt on his Patriot credentials. Yeah, Wittner is a globalist who’s ilk in the end will drive this country bankrupt as his own statistics cry out but at least he is a benign globalist.

  9. 1776Liberty
    January 17, 2012 at 12:08

    The disingenuousness and lies within this article can be clearly observed due to the total lack of fairness in including the one voice that speaks out within the republican party that does not invoke war or imperialism but peace and prosperity and also the total misrepresentation of the organizations mentioned..

    The old method of scissors will no longer work by funding and propping up the imperialistic NECONS and propose the so called peaceful solution of the UN it truly mind boggling least we forget the everyone knows the evil of the solution and the blood and terror it has wrought in the world during its short tenure of somewhat control of world affairs.
    Also the authors inability to connect Romney’s statements with the New American Century paper which required a “New Pearl Harbor Attack e.g 9/11 on American in order to accomplish its imperialist goals. While promoting the UN New World Order position is also remiss in clearly revealing the horrific accomplishments of the UN and NATO attacks upon the 30,000 murdered civilians in Libya as NATO with UN backing attacked and destroyed a nation of peaceful people. The UN has an evil track record to bring peace to any where it sets its evil foot and has left a trail of blood all around the world with it peace missions. So do not expect the American People who are sick and tired of war to fall for the UN gambit of saying one thing and then doing another.

    Only Dr. Paul has offered a solution to the UN NATO cancerous disease around the world what it feeding off the American Tax payers lively hood. Stop all foreign aid, pull out of the UN, and NATO and refuse to commit our money or troops to any other cause that is not directly connected to defending our nation against a clear attack from a foreign country.

    Clearly the organizations mentioned are all Rockefeller funded organizations and so support the evil goal of the UN New World Order to the Tee that involve world starvation, war, and destruction of humanity. the Old guard it now under attack from every corner of its evil agenda as the cloak of secrecy has been broken and lies have been revealed for what they are. No matter how much you attempt to control what is going on it is impossible to do so as the future is no longer yours and it will belong to free peoples who are very intelligent and very motivated for real change without war and greed steering the outcome of every event. The long list of UN atrocities such as child trafficking, drug running,white slavery, murder, distribution of infectious diseases through vaccines, starvation of massive of peoples through the cultivation of war. Seriously the Four Horseman Death, Famine, War and Disease are embodied in the UN and its unholy alliance with the Luciferians of this world and your time is at end.

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