By Andrew Kohut
The American capacity to look the other way on world affairs hit a high point in July. By any standard a lot was going on. The extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham conquered a large swath of Iraq, adding to the territory the group holds in Syria. A commercial airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine and a new bloody war broke out in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. Despite the growing mayhem, a mere 3% of Americans in a mid-July Gallup poll named an international issue as one of America’s most important problems.
According to a mid-July Pew Research Center survey, however, international issues are a problem for President Obama. His approval rating on his handling of foreign policy is falling among the same public that itself seems indifferent to events overseas.
While the recent 3% finding doesn’t represent the full extent of public concern for world affairs, it does suggest the public’s relative priorities. When Americans look at the world’s trouble spots, majorities are inclined to say they aren’t our problem.