Americans are turning away from the world, showing a tendency toward isolationism in foreign affairs that has risen to the highest level in four decades, a Pew Research Center survey found. Almost half, 49 percent, told the polling organization that the United States should “mind its own business” internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own, reported the Associated Press. That’s up from 30 percent who said that in December 2002. Results of the survey appear to conflict with President Barack Obama’s activist foreign policy, including a newly announced buildup of 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to fight Taliban and al-Qaida extremists. Only 32 percent of the poll respondents favored increasing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, while 40 percent favored decreasing them. And fewer than half, or 46 percent, of those polled said it was somewhat or very likely that Afghanistan would be able to withstand the radicals’ threat. Forty-one percent of those surveyed said the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago, up from 25 percent who said that just before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the report said. Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut said in an interview that the “very bad economy” appeared most responsible for the growth of isolationist sentiment. He said the public was also “displeased with the two wars we are waging, in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Among Americans polled, 44 percent said China was the world’s leading economic power, compared with 27 percent who named the United States. In February 2008, 41 percent said the U.S. was the leading economic power, while 30 percent said China was. A majority of Americans surveyed, or 53 percent, see China’s emerging power as a threat to the United States.

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