A new poll shows how Trump captured the public sentiment that both neoconservatives and liberal interventionists have ignored.

By Robert W. Merry
December 26, 2016
The American Conservative

A recent poll by the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for the National Interest sheds new light on why Donald Trump captured the White House. Its results amount to a public-opinion indictment of the foreign policy thinking—and the foreign policy results—of both parties over the past decade and a half. It exposes a divide between the establishment outlook of Washington and public sentiment at large, and the results don’t seem to make much of a distinction between the record of Republican George W. Bush and that of Democrat Barack Obama.

Asked, for example, if U.S. foreign policy over the past 15 years made Americans more or less safe, fully 52 percent said less safe. Only 12 percent said safer, while another quarter said the nation’s foreign policy actions over that time span had had no impact on their safety. The results were similar when respondents were asked if U.S. foreign policy of the past two administrations had made the world more or less safe. Less safe: 51 percent; safer: 11 percent; no change: 24 percent.

The poll indicates that many Americans attribute the chaotic state of the world today to their own leaders. Respondents, for example, took a dim view of the kinds of “regime change” operations pursued by both Bush and Obama—most notably, in Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. Fully 45 percent said cutting back on such operations would improve U.S. safety, while only 20 percent suggested greater regime change efforts could enhance American security.

Further, 49 percent favored diplomacy over military action as the best approach to enhancing national security, while 26 percent preferred military approaches. This sentiment was borne out more specifically with regard to U.S. relations with Russia. Asked if that country should be viewed as an adversary or potential partner of the United States, 38 percent of respondents viewed Russia as both an adversary and a potential partner, while 17 percent classified it as a potential partner. Only 33 percent said Russia should be viewed strictly as a U.S. adversary.

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