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The Gathering Storm
Is The "Sleeping Giant" Beginning To Stir?

Americans may be starting to awaken to the scale of the dangers beyond our borders, according to a new Pew Poll:

A large majority of Americans think the world is a more dangerous place than it was several years ago. And a terrorist group that was not even on the public’s radar a year ago – the Islamic militants known as ISIS or ISIL – today ranks near the top of its list of U.S. security threats.

As the public’s views of global threats have changed, so too have opinions about America’s role in solving world problems. On balance, more continue to think the United States does too much, rather than too little, to help solve world problems. But the share saying the U.S. does too little to address global problems has nearly doubled – from 17% to 31% – since last November, while the percentage saying it is doing too much has fallen from 51% to 39%.

As the public begins to feel threatened by events overseas, it is likely to follow historic trends by shifting away from Jeffersonian populism to Jacksonian populism. Jeffersonians have historically focused on minimal government abroad as well as at home, arguing that the good example of American success coupled with non-interference should drive American foreign policy (think Rand Paul). The Jacksonians, meanwhile, make an exception for defense, which they feel to be one of the few core, legitimate areas for muscular government.

This new survey suggests that on the right, at least, a shift in this direction is already underway:

Republicans, Democrats and independents all are more likely to say the U.S. does too little to solve world problems, but the shift among Republicans has been striking. Last fall, 52% of Republicans said the U.S. does too much to help solve global problems, while just 18% said it does too little. Today, 46% of Republicans think the U.S. does too little to solve global problems, while 37% say it does too much.

As the threat perception continues to grow, the American electorate likely will focus more on national defense, which could be an important issue in 2016—unless the tempests raging around the world somehow quiet and the public goes back to sleep.

That does not, at this point, appear likely.

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  • Arkeygeezer

    Despite the media drumbeat and push polls to the contrary, I think that our current pragmatic foreign policy is good.

    President Obama is doing what he said he would do. He has a pragmatic foreign policy that deals with reality while limiting American military action to defend American interests or personnel. His problem is that he lies a lot, is devisive, and has lost credibility with friend and foe alike, both foreign and domestic. The result has been a hung Congress and an inability to influence foreign governments.

    In the middle east people are rearranging their political systems along ethnic and religious lines through bloody civil wars. The U.S. should stay out of it and deal with the eventual winners. We are not going to change anything through moral suasion, and military action would only delay the inevitable.

    We defeated Al-quida and they morphed into ISIS. Israel did not conquer Hamas by military force. The best we can do is contain them in the middle east and let the Arabs settle with the Arabs.

    • Fred

      He has a pragmatic foreign policy that deals with reality

      No offense, but horse hockey. Fading red lines, “leading from behind,” betraying freedom movements in a forlorn hope of getting a deal with fanatical dictators, standing by and all but inviting Putin to take Ukraine (and who knows what from there), ignoring the rise if ISIS, etc., etc., that’s not “pragmatic” it’s weak. And nothing invites violence like weakness. I agree that any military action America is likely to take at the moment, especially with President Gelding at the helm, would probably be worse than useless, but real military action absent sentimentality about collateral damage and present a real will to see the fight through would probably have much more affect than you suppose. See rheddles’ Sherman quote above.

    • adk

      “The best we can do is contain them in the middle east and let the Arabs settle with the Arabs.”
      Unfortunately, the Arabs (or, more precisely, militant Muslims when you include Iranians, Pakistanis, etc.) are not going to limit themselves to fighting one another in their neighborhood (which is bad enough given where most of the world’s oil comes from.)

      No, they have, and will again, come here and to the EU with whatever weapons they could get their hands on. Thus Obama’s foreign policy is a) anything but pragmatic, and b) just doesn’t exist (“‘Don’t do stupid sh..t’ is not an organizing principle,” as somebody famous recently noted.)

  • rheddles

    The American people do not so much feel threatened, after all we were never really threatened in WWII, as they think evil people really are evil and are gaining too much power in the world. One of Bush’s mistakes was to minimize the number of evil-doers so that Obama could claim bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is on the run. That has been shown to be hogwash. People are now, slowly starting to come to the conclusion that there is a whole lot of evil that needs to be rooted out of that part of the world and it will take a Shermanic effort to accomplish it. This is not so much a Jacksonian thing as it is a Wilsonian one. Once the Puritan elite decides there is evil in the world, the Jacksonians will be happy to root it out. And let the Hamiltonians make their obscene war profits while the Jeffersonians will just stay at home and tremble as Jefferson did before the British. See The Cousins’ Wars

    • Tom

      Be fair to Jefferson: He did decide to take on the Barbary pirates.

  • Kevin

    Is this post supposed to be linked to the one on Sherman burning down Atlanta immediately above it?

    • rheddles

      The spirit of Uncle Billy will be returning more and more as the United States concludes that it is time to trample out the vintage where the raisins grapes of wrath are stored.

      War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.

      This war differs from other wars, in this particular. We are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war.

      War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.

      I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptoms of tiring till the South begs for mercy.

      If the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity seeking.

      My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

      • Tom

        Unfortunately, if we’d done to Fallujah what Sherman did to Atlanta, we’d be accused of war crimes by literally every other foreign country and every major news outlet besides Fox and the WSJ–and probably them.
        Sherman’s methods are political nonstarters, which’s a pity.

        • rheddles

          So far. Things will progress.

        • Corlyss

          At some point, I think they will be the only thing left to us, primarily because the id*I*ots in charge of the dialog will have left us nothing else, with their pandering to The Monster and their multiculti crap. We can’t care about such trifles as the UN/HRW/IA crowd will no doubt try to seize the moral high ground over. Common sense must prevail when the threat is existential.

  • Corlyss

    Don’t get to excited, VM, because as much as the American public might be waking up to the real threat, it desperately distrusts Doofus to fashion an effective response. Anything unkind (something that might make him look like a Republican) he does, he immediately puts an exit date on the effort. He doesn’t understand the difference between and exit date and an exit strategy. To him, hyper-educated simpleton that he is, those things are the same!

    • rheddles

      Doofus is incapable of making the decision to implement the effective response the defense establishment will prepare for him. In this he is reminiscent of James Buchannan, the President with whom he will most frequently be compared after the next President inherits what all in the world will see as a war well underway that only Doofus refused to acknowledge.

  • Anthony

    Alas, the world wide web has provided access to computer war strategist – experts in sending someone else off to shed blood or perhaps die (all while they sit safely ensconced ostensibly behind the comforts of their computer screens. “War is the health of the state” the radical writer Randolph Bourne said in the midst of World War I – as young men died in frightful numbers albeit patriotism, honor, and hatred for the other boomed; yet, who really benefits?

    • Fred

      You do realize that’s a textbook ad hominem, right? Even assuming those of us who believe military strength is necessary and useless without the willingness to use it are just cowards hiding behind our keyboards, that does not in the least invalidate our arguments. The “chicken hawk” argument was stupid when it was used against the Iraq war and it hasn’t gotten any smarter over time.

      • Anthony

        I’ve moved on and suggest you do likewise. Thanks for elementary lesson.

        • Fred

          Boy, you are a piece of work, you know that? You make a ridiculous ad hominem argument and when you get called on it, your response is “move on.” Then again, I guess if I made an argument that dumb and got called on it, I’d want to “move on” too. So I suppose I’ll take your suggestion.

          • Anthony

            Do me a favor and leave me the **** alone.

          • Fred

            Hey Garbo, if you want to be left the **** alone, I suggest you stop doing things like calling people cowards in a transparent attempt to divert a discussion of the use of military force from the merits to maligning people on one side of the debate. That, btw, is the textbook definition of “ad hominem.” You come here with your drive-by nonsense and, when called on it, refuse to engage, pretend you’re above the fray, and claim to be making “assertions not arguments.” Well, if you want to be left alone, go someplace else, ’cause Homey don’t play dat. You spout BS and I will call you on it. Every time.

          • Anthony

            I don’t enjoy opening up AI and seeing…on my screen (could be construed as harassment even though this is public forum). So one last time (because what is this really about), do me a kindness and leave me **** alone, said as clearly, simply, appropriately, and concisely as possible. Fine another party to engage your verbal dispute (a different view of what is at issue and meaning). I’m done here my man and…

  • Phil Harrell

    I really see no downside to letting them kill each other. Let them bleed till there’s an obvious winner in the muslim civil war, then we go destroy the winner. IIRC we built a Navy to fight the muslim terrorists over 200 yrs ago, they’re still our enemy so we haven’t sapped their will to fight. I]ve always wondered if Mecca was nuked wouldn’t it prove allah’s a myth and mohammed the best con artist in history. Since muslim men know the impotency of their culture, wouldn’t proving it have them give up. They surrendered by thousands to us before, a dagger to their religion might get them to commit mass suicide. It’s a strategy at least.

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