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Majority of Americans See the United States as Less Powerful

America’s Place in the World

Speakers: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
Alan Murray, President, Pew Research Center
Presider: Tom Gjelten, National Security Correspondent, NPR
December 3, 2013

Event Description

With a majority of the American public now saying that they view U.S. global power and influence as being in decline, Pew Research Center president Alan Murray and CFR President Richard N. Haass sit down to discuss the latest "America's Place in the World" survey. Among the poll's major findings is an increased desire for the United States to "mind its own business" and focus its efforts more on solving domestic problems at home. Nevertheless, support for continued U.S. involvement in international economic matters remains strong.

Event Highlights

Alan Murray on the support for U.S. involvement in the global economy:

"One more trend here that I think is surprising and may be in some ways the most significant finding of this, which is that, when you turn to the economic issues and you ask people about economic engagement in the world, support remains very strong. You had 77 percent who said that business and trade relations with the rest of the world was overall a good thing, 66 percent who said global engagement -- the benefits of global engagement -- economic engagement exceed the risks. So this is not sort of a blanket isolationism going on here. There is a definite pulling back in terms of foreign policy, but a willingness to continue to engage on the economic front."

Richard Haass on importance of U.S. leadership:

"So we have got to get it right, because the alternative -- I actually believe this strongly -- the alternative now to a U.S.-led world is a nobody-led world. And that's a world of growing disorder. This is not a world that's self-regulating or self-managing. So we either get it right or we enter into I believe what could be a prolonged, dark era of international disorder."

Richard Haass on how the United States is perceived by the rest of the world:

"And I think that's part of the -- part of the results of what happened here over the last few months, is a lot of countries took their measure of us and said, wow, if they can shut down the government, if they can nearly go over debt ceilings, if -- the sequester raises questions of resource ability, what this has done is raise questions of American ability and will to be a consistent actor in the world. And I think the repercussions of that are potentially large and costly."


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