Americans are overwhelmingly for peaceful engagement as an alternative to military intervention, according to a poll released last week by the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for the National Interest. The poll of 1000 Americans found that 52% of those polled believed that U.S. foreign policy measure over the last 15 years have made them less safe, with 25% saying that foreign policy has had no impact on their safety. In contrast, only 12% felt that U.S. foreign policy has improved their safety.
The numbers stayed almost exactly the same when respondents were asked how the U.S. foreign policy had impacted the safety of the world as a whole.
When asked whether they agreed with the statement, “The U.S. should work with existing governments and heads of state to try to promote peace rather than seeking to oust government by force” 70% of those polled were in agreement.
The poll further found that Americans favored prioritizing diplomatic efforts over military power, and found that, in general, Americans are hesitant to send U.S. military forces into conflict. In fact, when asked if the U.S. should support allied countries in military conflict with Russia, only 26% of respondents agreed with military intervention.
In contrast to these findings, more respondents favored increased military spending than those favoring spending the same or those that favored spending less.
With Russian-U.S. relations becoming more contentious over the last 8 years, and the potential to reset relations under President-Elect Donald Trump, voters seemed hesitant to view Russia as a potential partner. When asked to choose between approaching Russia as a partner or adversary 17% felt that Russia should be viewed as a partner, 33% viewed Russia as an adversary, and 38% said both.
When it comes to making military decisions, Americans want more oversight and caution from Washington, with 39% saying that “a president who does not get congressional approval before committing the United States to military action abroad” should be impeached.
Respondents were also largely in favor of keeping troops at home and reducing U.S. military presence abroad. Those that desire increased foreign presence were solidly in the minority.
Many Americans felt that foreign countries were not pulling their weight, with a plurality (41%) stating that President-Elect Trump should encourage NATO countries to increase defense spending, and 49% believing that the U.S. should either renegotiate or walk away from the recent Iran deal.
While many of the responses indicate uncertainty when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, the consensus seems to be clear. Americans want peace, and they don’t believe it will come through continued military intervention.