November 11, 2011

The Generation Gap on Foreign Policy and National Security Issues

66 vs. 41

Two-thirds of Millennials believe that relying on military force creates hatred that leads to more terrorism, a view shared by a significantly smaller portion (41%) of the over-65 Silent generation.

Younger generations hold more liberal values than older generations regarding U.S. foreign policy. In particular, they are more likely to favor multilateralism over unilateralism and the use of diplomacy – rather than relying on military strength — to ensure peace.

Two-thirds of Millennials (66%) say that relying too much on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism. A slim majority of Gen Xers (55%) agree with this sentiment, but less than half (46%) of Boomers agree and the number of Silents who share this view is 41%. A plurality of Silents (45%) believe that using overwhelming force is the best way to defeat terrorism and 43% of Boomers share that view.

There are similar divisions between Millennials and Silents on other foreign policy and national security issues. More than six-in-ten Millennials (63%) believe that the U.S. should take the interests of allies into account even if it means making compromises in foreign policy. Four-in-ten Silents share that view. Conversely, 44% of Silents believe the U.S. should follow its own interests even when allies strongly disagree; just 29% of Millennials agree.

Two-thirds of Millennials say that the best way to ensure peace is through good diplomacy. In addition, more than six-in-ten (62%) of Millennials say that it is acceptable for an individual to refuse to fight in a war that he or she believes is morally wrong; just over one third of Silents share this view. Read More