Here is the poll I was looking for, and there are some interesting things to be found in it. While it is true that only 12% of Americans agree with the statement that the U.S. should “withdraw from most efforts to solve international problems,” that is actually tremendously strong support for a degree of withdrawal from the globe that even most non-interventionists wouldn’t support. There are, after all, humanitarian, financial, commercial and diplomatic means to address international problems that would not necessarily violate the counsel of Washington and Jefferson to avoid permanent and entangling alliances. It is a caricature of the non-interventionist and neutralist positions that they would involve some kind of autarchic separation from the rest of the planet, and even then 12% would embrace such a policy.
That 12% of the American public supports withdrawing even from many of these efforts is an impressive indication of how uninterested Americans are in the role of hegemon. Only 10% of Americans endorse the statement that the U.S. “should continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems.” The Washington consensus on American “leadership” in the world is shared by one in ten Americans. This is unsustainable at home.
The majorities in Argentina and the Palestinian territories that prefer American withdrawal from most international efforts and the strong support for that option in Russia, Armenia and even Ukraine give another clue as to why hegemony is also unsustainable around the world. What these nations have in common is a great antipathy to the way that the U.S. has exercised “leadership” in the world, since it has tended to come at their expense, or they associate their own problems with U.S. “leadership.” The few nations that have large constituencies that support U.S. hegemony tend to be those that probably believe they have some stake in continued American preeminence (e.g., South Korea, the Philippines, Israel) or those rising powers, such as India, that see an advantage in aligning themselves with the hegemon. In the other countries in the survey, support for U.S. withdrawal from international efforts typically exceeds support for hegemony, and we can expect the former to grow stronger the longer Washington persists in its pursuit of preeminence.