US & Canada

US 'sees world influence declining' amid economic woe

The US as a world leader

There has been a sharp rise in the number of Americans who believe the US role as a world leader is on the decline, a survey suggests.

The proportion of those saying the US is playing a less pow­erful global role than 10 years ago has risen from 17% in 2002 to 37%, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs said.

A third of 2,717 respondants said the US would be the top world power 2060.

The gloom is put down to economic woes at home and weariness of foreign wars.

"After nine years of difficult wars and the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, Americans want to focus on the home front and be more selective in the application of US influence and resources abroad," Chicago Council President Marshall M Bouton said in a statement.

Other survey findings include:

  • Nine out of 10 Americans today think it is more important for the future that the US see to pressing problems at home than address challenges abroad.
  • Fifty-one percent of Americans think US ability to achieve its goals has decreased.
  • A majority of Americans believe that if Israel and Iran go to war, the US should not intervene militarily on Israel's side.
  • American support for military bases in Japan, Germany, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan has declined.
  • Forty-five per cent of Americans believe Muslims' religious, social and political traditions are incompatible with Western ways and that violent conflict is inevitable, up 18 points since 2002.
  • Three-quarters of Americans think the terrorists' ability to launch another major attack on the US is either the same or greater than it was at the time of the 11 September, 2001 attacks.
  • On domestic matters, 59% say with the way the country is moving now, the next generation of Americans will be economically worse off than adults today, and 62% say the distribution of wealth and income in the US has become less fair.