Emily Ekins|April 4, 2014 6:56 pm
As tensions rise between Ukraine and Russia, America’s foreign policy hawks argue the US needs to do more. However, Reason-Rupe finds war-weary Americans are reluctant to get involved in yet another conflict abroad. My college Zenon Evans writes more about this here.
Conservative hawks like Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and US Sen. John McCain say we need to do more. Kristol argued that the US is partly responsible for what’s happening today because we didn’t get involved after the Orange Revolution in 2004, and therefore “we now need to help them.” John McCainwants the US to push for moving Ukraine into NATO, which would obligate the US to intervene in conflicts like these.
President Obama has urged caution saying that Ukraine is not “some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.” Sen. Rand Paul happened to agree contending “some on our side are so stuck in the Cold War era that they want to tweak Russia all the time, and I don’t think that is a good idea.”
Americans tend to agree the US should not get involved. In fact, when asked what they’d like to do regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 58 percent would prefer the US stay out of it completely. Thirty-one percent would prefer the US continue imposing economic sanctions and only 8 percent want the US to send troops.
If Russia attempts to invade additional parts of Ukraine, Americans continue to overwhelmingly oppose the US sending troops, with 76 percent opposed and 20 percent in favor, and even oppose sending military aid and weapons to Ukraine, with 62 percent opposed and 33 percent in favor. However, only 32 percent would oppose imposing stricter economic sanctions on Russia, while 61 percent favor that approach. This is not because Americans necessarily believe sanctions will solve the problem, but rather they view it as a symbolic gesture to communicate to Russia that they don’t condone its actions.
Opposition to military intervention or interference in Ukraine extends beyond partisanship, although Republicans are more likely to support involvement than Democrats. For instance, while a majority (53 percent) of Republicans oppose sending military aid, this number jumps to 68 percent among Democrats. When it comes to imposing stricter economic sanctions if Russia sends in more troops, Democrats and Republicans are equally in favor with roughly 6 in 10 in support. However, political independents are the most skeptical of further involvement only 41 percent favor and 48 percent opposed.
Millennials, many of whom came of political age during the Bush administration and two unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are the most opposed to US involvement in Ukraine. Young people’s skepticism is not reserved for military intervention; they are the most likely group to oppose imposing further economic sanctions on Russia as well.
While many Americans lost confidence in President Bush’s foreign policy approach, only a third think President Obama’s is any better, and a third think it’s worse. Regarding Ukraine specifically, nearly a quarter of Americans don’t now enough about the situation to evaluate Obama’s performance, while 37 approve and 40 disapprove.
Opposition to US intervention in Ukraine plays a more important role than partisanship in explaining Americans’ evaluation of President Obama’s handling of the situation. Among those who disapprove of Obama’s handling of Ukraine, only 26 percent want the US to continue imposing economic sanctions and 61 percent want the US to stay out of it. However, among those who approve, roughly half support the administration’s policy while the other half want to stay out of it. Nevertheless, partisans are equally likely to support sanctions (31%) or staying out of it (58%). Nationwide telephone poll conducted March 26-30 2014 interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.6%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.