July 14, 2009

America Abroad

I recently read something which conflated neoconservative foreign policy views with conservative foreign policy views. That sort of stuff irritates me, but the reality is that neoconservative foreign policy views are the mainstream among conservatives today. Is it surprising that conservative columnist Charlie Reese got called a “limousine liberal,” no thanks to his stances on foreign policy? But I was curious, what do the data say? The General Social Survey has a variable which asks:

Do you think it will be best for the future of this country if we take an active part in world affairs, or if we stay out of world affairs?

Here is a graph of those who believe that the US should take an “active” role in world affairs as a function of time by political orientation:

Now, as for conservatives broken down by intensity:

Finally, how does this break down for all conservatives when you look at other variables? Here’s a barplot:

1) The anti-interventionist tendency is a minority on both the Left and the Right.

2) Though today the Left is more anti-interventionist than the Right, most of the variation is within the two political coalitions, not between them.

3) Though anti-interventionism is a minority position among conservatives, it is not a vanishingly small one. But it seems that aside from Pat Buchanan among mainstream pundits the only “conservatives” who voice an anti-interventionist stance are libertarians. Why? A friend of mine who has made his career in movement conservatism chalks it up to the constraints placed upon Right-leaning think tanks by their funders, who tend to be hostile to the anti-interventionist and anti-globalist stream within modern American conservatism.

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