By Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center

Special to Yale Global

The global image of the United States as an advocate for development, multilateralism, liberty and democracy – typified by the catalytic role the nation played in creation of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan that rebuilt war-torn Europe, President Jimmy Carter’s championing of human rights and President George W. Bush’s promise to support democratic movements around the world – has never had the unanimous support of the American public. And now, at a time of Americans’ war weariness and widespread concern about the domestic economy, both the public and the U.S. foreign policy establishment are particularly wary of such idealistic foreign policy endeavors.

In 2013 there is an unprecedented lack of support for American engagement with the rest of the world. The public suggests that the nation does too much to solve world problems: About half of Americans, 51 percent, tell interviewers that the United States is overextended abroad, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

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