Americans Really Don’t Care About Spreading Democracy

How It Works
Sept. 12 2013 1:45 PM

Americans Really Don’t Care About Spreading Democracy


A common trope of the Syria debate has been that following the experience of the Bush administration, Americans are in a more realist mood – willing to support military action only when U.S. national security is directly threatened.

But as the chart from the Pew Research Center above indicates, unlike some of their leaders, Americans weren’t all that interested in democracy promotion during the Bush administration either In fact they’ve gotten slightly more supportive of the goal under Obama’s presidency, though presumably not of using military force to accomplish it. Americans are even more opposed (72 percent against) when asked specifically if the United States should “try to change a dictatorship to a democracy where it can”. Democracy promotion is evidently something Americans only like in the abstract, and even then not that much.


Surprisingly to me, “working with organizations like the United Nations to bring about world cooperation” also gets relatively strong support in the Pew poll with 58 percent calling it very important and 22 percent somewhat important. A question for the weeks ahead is whether this multilateralist mood will trump Americans’ strong distrust of Russia and its president.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

Even by Russian Standards, Moscow’s Anti-War March Was Surprisingly Grim

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 22 2014 12:30 PM Turkey Just Got Forty-Six Hostages Back From ISIS. How Did That Happen?
Sept. 22 2014 12:44 PM The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy
The Shortcut
Sept. 22 2014 12:31 PM Down With Loose Laces A simple trick to tighten your running shoes for good.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 12:22 PM The Age of the Streaming TV Auteur
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.