A new Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute (RRPFI) sponsored national poll on priorities and opinions of Americans on defense, military, and foreign policy issues has found a “sharp decline in trust and confidence in the U.S. Military” and a “growing ambivalence about U.S. leadership in the world.”
The report also notes significant concerns over China and cyberattacks from foreign governments and entities, and reveals a deep distrust in U.S. institutions including the Congress of the United States, and the national media.
From November 2018 to November 2021, trust and confidence in Congress has hovered between just five and six percent. Trust in the media has fallen again, this from from 16 to just 10 percent, while trust in the Presidency has plummeted to just 19 percent.
A majority of Americans identified China as the greatest threat facing the United States. This is the first time the survey has found cross-partisan consensus when posing questions regarding international security concerns. Sixty-five percent reported believing China is an enemy, up 10 points since 2018. Sixty-six percent of Democrats alongside 79 percent of Republicans are concerned about a war with China.
The bipartisan fear of China stems from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) trade and economic practices, military growth, and human rights abuses. Respondents further found unity in wanting a greater military focus on East Asia. Sixty-six percent of Americans would support imposing economic sanctions against China, and 71 percent support recognizing Taiwan as an independent country.
For the first time, a minority of Americans (45 percent) reported having a “great deal of trust and confidence in the military.” The response is 25 points lower than over the last three years, and comes on the back of increased “critical race theory” teaching in the military, the recent National Guard theatrical occupation of Washington, D.C., and Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The news comes just days after President Trump insisted that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, is a “f**king idiot.” The American public appears to share that view of U.S. military leadership, which came out as the clear leader in the “not one of the best [in the world]” categories in the poll.
Only 42 percent of Democrats reported confidence in the military, down 17 points. Fifty-three percent (53 percent) of Republicans have confidence in the military, down 34 points.
Only 33 percent of adults under the age of 30 have high confidence in the military. Analysts of the poll stated that this is the “most troubling” aspect of the results, as Americans under 30 are the most likely candidates for “the all-volunteer force.”
Perceptions of whether the U.S. military could win a war overseas (42 percent) or perform core responsibilities, like keeping the country safe, were all low. In reaction to the failed Afghanistan withdrawal operation under President Biden, 6 in 10 Americans believe the war was a failure.
Nearly half of Americans (48 percent) see the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan as a major threat to national security, and blame President Biden for the failures and problems associated from the withdrawal (49 percent).
Growing ambivalence about leadership under the Biden regime, with roughly a third of respondents (30 percent) thinking the U.S. should be less engaged in global events, revealed bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans in thinking U.S. should be less involved in global engagement. Conversely, both groups had strong unity over China’s handling of COVID-19 and potential international engagement over China’s response to the pandemic.
Almost two-thirds (72 percent) of all respondents believe that COVID-19 coronavirus was developed by Wuhan scientists, and the accidental leak of the virus was covered up by the Chinese government through repeated lies. Seventy-six percent (76 percent) of respondents stated that if the lab leak theory is proven, China should pay reparations to impacted nations.
Along with concerns over China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and against the Uyghur population, sixty percent (60 percent) of respondents support delaying or relocating the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and a business boycott.