From Overseas Press

Americans sense a decline and look inward

Updated: 2011-07-05 13:53
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More Americans see the US as less powerful and more vulnerable and want their leaders to focus more on challenges at home and less on the world's affairs, according to a poll on the eve of Independence Day, said an article in The Christian Science Monitor on July 3, 2011.

The poll, released on the eve of this Independence Day weekend by Time magazine and the Aspen Institute's Aspen Ideas Festival, found that more than two-thirds of Americans considered the last 10 years to have been a decade of decline for America. According to the poll, three-fourth s of Americans said economic weakness posed a bigger danger to the US than do national security threats.

Actually, a Pew Research Center poll in May found that majorities in every partisan group of the population – including, for the first time in the decade of 9/11, conservative Republicans – agreed with the statement that the US "should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems here at home". And one Pew poll recently found that not just average Americans, but "opinion makers" as well, increasingly favored a less assertive global role for the US.

In some ways, this inward turn for Americans seems to reflect their leaders' recent rhetoric, which was exemplified by President Obama's announcement last month of his plans for a troop drawdown in Afghanistan and his decision to play a supportive role to other NATO powers in the Libya conflict.

But some foreign-policy experts warned that, while the biggest player in the country's isolationist turn is no doubt the economy, it doesn't help to have a president who they say is himself retreating from the world, said the article. "America's fiscal situation and the over-all economy are driving a lot of Americans to look more inwardly, no question," said Robert Zarate, a policy adviser at the Foreign Policy Institute in Washington and a former House Republican legislative assistant. "But it doesn't help when we have a president who seems to want to back out of our engagement" in the world, he added.