Foreign policy: does anyone really care what you think? | Bleader

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Foreign policy: does anyone really care what you think?

Posted By on 11.14.06 at 06:52 AM

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The U.S. should give up its veto power in the UN Security Council and accept the jurisdiction of the World Court and the International Criminal Court. We should spend more on domestic social programs than on the military, and favor humanitarian foreign aid over strategic or military aid. 

If you think that way, you probably think you're in the minority. Actually, the people are with you, but the foreign-policy decision makers often are not. So says The Foreign Policy Disconnect: What Americans Want from Our Leaders but Don't Get, by Northwestern University political scientist Benjamin I. Page and Chicago Council on Foreign Relations president Marshall M. Bouton. The book is based on 30 years of polling and finds that public opinion on foreign policy is surprisingly consistent and coherent, not just a random collection of contradictory or lightly held opinions.

Americans are not as stereotyped as those positions might suggest, though: we're also much more concerned about protecting domestic jobs, controlling illegal immigration, and stopping the drug trade than are most top policy-makers.

Why is there such a big disconnect in a democracy?  That might be a good jumping-off point for discussion when Page appears at Borders in Evanston tomorrow night, November 15, at 7:30.

If you can't make it, you can download Jerome McDonnell's November 6 WBEZ interview with Page here.  Not much blogging on this, but former U. of C. political scientist Daniel Drezner -- who claims to have read the whole thing -- calls the book "good" and says if you like it you'll probably like America Against The World by Kohut and Stokes too.

Meanwhile, FYI here are 20 possible goals for US foreign policy, as the public ranked them in the 2002 survey (Page and Bouton call this the most important table in the book):

Combating international terrorism -- 91% say it's very important

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons -- 90%

Protecting the jobs of American workers -- 85%

Stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the United States -- 81%

Securing adequate supplies of energy -- 75%

Controlling and reducing illegal immigration -- 70%

Maintaining superior military power worldwide -- 68%

Improving the global environment -- 66%

Combating world hunger -- 61%

Strengthening the United Nations -- 57%

Defending our allies' security -- 57%

Safeguarding against global financial instability -- 54%

Reducing our trade deficit with foreign countries -- 51%

Protecting the interests of American business abroad -- 49%

Promoting and defending human rights in other countries -- 47%

Strengthening international law and institutions -- 43%

Protecting weaker nations against foreign aggression -- 41%

Promoting market economies abroad --36%

Helping to bring a democratic form of government to other nations -- 34%

Helping to improve the standard of living of less developed nations -- 30%

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