'More think US losing standing abroad'

'More think US losing standing abroad'
A US flag being carried during a New York parade last month. While the survey at large did not offer any specific conclusions about the causes of antipathy towards global engagement, a poll of the Council on Foreign Relations members attributed the results to war fatigue and unresolved domestic problems.

At a time when the United States is ramping up its engagement in East Asia and Iran, a record number of Americans seem to think that their country is losing its standing abroad and should start minding its own business.

A recent poll of some 2,000 people found 53 per cent believe the US to be less powerful and important than 10 years ago - the first time it has crossed the 50 per cent mark in 40 years of surveys.

A similarly high share - 52 per cent - said the US "should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own".

The poll America's Place in the World is conducted every four years by Pew Research Centre in collaboration with the Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank.

The latest took place between Oct 30 and Nov 6, after the US government shutdown took effect but before the landmark Iran nuclear deal or tensions over China's newly established air defence identification zone.

Pew notes that this is the most "lopsided balance in favour of the US minding its own business" and caps a decade which has seen domestic support for US engagement abroad slip continually.

In 2004, just 20 per cent of respondents thought that the US' global standing had dipped.

Still, the shift towards a more domestic focus does not seem to be accompanied by a corresponding push for a protectionist economy nor does it include a significant rise in the perception of China as a military power.

Two-thirds still say involvement in the global economy is a good thing. And while Americans have for years regarded China as the leading economic superpower, only 14 per cent see it as the leading military power, down 4 percentage points from 2009.

For those in the US capital, the results are far from surprising with a growing number across all levels of society seemingly disillusioned with American intervention abroad.

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