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The American Public's Indifference to Foreign Affairs | Stratfor

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One thing that the end of the Cold War and the subsequent 20 years taught the United States was that the world mattered -- a mindset that was as habitual as it was reflective of new realities. If the world mattered, then something must be done when it became imperiled. The result was covert and overt action designed to shape events to suit American interests, perceived and real. Starting in the late 1980s, the United States sent troops to Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait. The American public was engaged in all of these for a variety of reasons, some of them good, some bad. Whatever the reasoning, there was a sense of clarity that demanded that something be done. After 9/11, the conviction that something be done turned into an obsession. But over the past 10 years, Americans' sense of clarity has become much more murky, and their appetite for involvement has declined accordingly.

That decline occurred not only among the American public but also among American policymakers. During the Cold War and jihadist wars, covert and overt intervention became a standard response. More recently, the standards for justifying either type of intervention have become more exacting to policymakers. Syria was not a matter of indifference, but the situation lacked the clarity that justified intervention. The United States seemed poised to intervene and then declined. The American public saw it as avoiding another overseas entanglement with an outcome that could not be shaped by American power.

Read more: The American Public's Indifference to Foreign Affairs | Stratfor Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook

This is disconcerting from the standpoint of those who live outside the United States. They experienced the United States through the Cold War, the Clinton years and the post-9/11 era. The United States was deeply involved in everything. The world got used to that. Today, government officials are setting much higher standards for involvement, though not as high as those set by the American public. The constant presence of American power shaping regions far away to prevent the emergence of a threat, whether communist or Islamist, is declining. I spoke to a foreign diplomat who insisted the United States was weakening. I tried to explain that it is not weakness that dictates disengagement but indifference. He couldn't accept the idea that the United States has entered a period in which it really doesn't care what happens to his country. I refined that by saying that there are those in Washington that do care, but that it is their profession to care. The rest of the country doesn't see that it matters to them. The diplomat had lived in a time when everything mattered and all problems required an American position. American indifference is the most startling thing in the world for him.Read more: The American Public's Indifference to Foreign Affairs | Stratfor Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook

Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy.

As an American, it's hard to know WHAT is worth caring about.

I think most would go in with limited troops in a United Nations effort, with a majority of the other developed nations participating.  I think the days are gone of the US being the sole worlds Police.  Most citizens are tired of being at war for the last 12+ years, and even more tired of paying for it.

Yes. Although it's unclear to me where the U.N. actually wants to go these days.

It seems like the UN will not go in anywhere, but it needs to quit falling on our shoulders, maybe the UN needs to realize that, and get some balls.

France has done a lot lately in Africa without a ton of US or UN help.  I think the regional powers theory may come into play more and more with Europe, Russia, and China. The battle over Africa will be very important for all of us.  South America does not get a lot of mention either. US continues to be lucky in our regional stability. 

We do, but Venezuela seems like a powder keg.

And yeah, Africa is important. What can we do?

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