Fewer Americans Want U.S. Taking Major Role in World Affairs

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Sixty-five percent of Americans prefer the U.S. to take the leading (20%) or a major role (45%) in world affairs. This is down from 69% in 2019 and 72% as recently as 2017. The current figure is one percentage point below the prior low from 2011. In almost all years since Gallup first asked the question in 2001, more than seven in 10 Americans have favored a leading or major role for the U.S., including a high of 79% in February 2003.

In addition to the current 65% who want the U.S. to take a substantial role in world affairs, 27% prefer a minor role and 7% want it to have no role at all. This is only the second time, along with 2011, when more than 30% wanted the U.S. to take a limited role, if any, in trying to solve international problems.

The results are based on the annual Gallup World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 1-23.

Republicans and independents (both at 61%) are much less likely than Democrats (75%) to want the U.S. to take a leading or major role in world affairs. Ten percent of Republicans and 9% of independents, but only 3% of Democrats, want the U.S. to have no international role.

Fewer Republicans and independents than in any prior year advocate for a prominent international role for the U.S. The percentage of Republicans wanting the U.S. to take the lead or have a major role in world affairs is significantly lower than the group’s prior low of 69% in 2011. It also marks a sharp departure from what Republicans wanted during the George W. Bush administration, when more than 80% of Republicans favored a leading or major role for the U.S.

This new Republican low is likely influenced by their disagreements with President Joe Biden’s foreign policy but also differences in foreign policy between the last two Republican presidents. Bush’s active U.S. foreign policy contrasts with Donald Trump’s “America First” approach to international matters, which argued for a much more limited U.S. role in international alliances and conflicts.