Americans want to remain engaged in global affairs. Congress should listen to them

Learn more about Igor Khrestin .
Igor Khrestin
Bradford M. Freeman Managing Director, Global Policy
George W. Bush Institute
U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attend a joint news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine on Feb. 20, 2023.

Americans want the United States to remain involved in global affairs, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center.   

While the international community fears a potential U.S. retreat from global affairs, the survey found that 3/4 of Americans consider conflict abroad including the war in Ukraine, Israel’s war against Hamas, and tensions between China and Taiwan as “important to U.S. interests and to them personally.”  There was very little difference in the responses of Democrats and Republicans on the issue, with a majority of both parties responding that international affairs are important to the U.S. and its citizens. There was, however, a larger swing by age: respondents 30 years and older cared significantly more (25% more for Israel and Taiwan and 16% for Ukraine) than those under 30.   

The challenge is how to translate these somewhat encouraging findings into successful foreign policy, as opinion on how the U.S. should respond to international crises remains polarized. An earlier Pew survey published in December 2023 found that 48% percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said that the U.S. has given “too much assistance” to Ukraine, compared to just 16% of Democrats. These differences in opinion, fueled by bad faith disinformation actors, have surely played a role in delaying the much-needed assistance package to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. 

On Feb. 24, the world will mark the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale, genocidal invasion of Ukraine. Israel continues to wage a war against Hamas – a terrorist organization under U.S. law – and an estimated 130 Israeli and dual-nationals remain hostage in Gaza. The Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping continues to threaten Taiwan, an island nation that is essential to U.S. economic and national security.  

It is vital that Americans remain engaged in the world because the stakes are enormous. U.S. isolationism is shortsighted and will only bring increased threats to global peace and security, much like it did in the 1930s.  Congress should listen to the majority of Americans that want to remain engaged and work to pass the assistance package to Ukraine and our other allies in need, while also strengthening our own national security and defense industrial base.