With the presidential debate on foreign policy coming up, it’s worth stressing that the public is looking not just for a new domestic approach; it’s looking for a new strategy for America’s role in the world. Some recent data from a survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs make this very clear indeed.
When asked about the importance of various foreign policy goals, the top priority in the public’s eyes is improving America’s standing in the world, followed by protecting the jobs of American workers.
Americans also want to see the United States participate in several treaties and agreements that would signal a change in the United States’ role in the world community. By 88-11, the public would like to see the United States enter into a treaty that would prohibit nuclear weapons and explosions; by 76-23, they are supportive of a new international treaty to address climate change; and by 68-30, they want the United States to enter into an agreement to try individuals for war crimes in the International Criminal Court who won’t be tried by their own country.
The public also supports creating several new international institutions to deal with ongoing global problems. By 69-30, they endorse a new institution to monitor the worldwide energy market; by 68-30, they support a new institution to monitor countries for compliance with treaty obligations on greenhouse gas emissions; by 59-38, they would like to see a new institution that monitors worldwide financial markets and seeks to avert impending crises; and by 57-42, they think a new institution should be formed to provide information and assistance to countries affected by large-scale migration flows.
Taken together, these views indicate public support for what amounts to a new international order. And after eight years of counterproductive and sometimes disastrous conservative foreign policy, that new international order can’t come a moment too soon.