National Security Miscellany

NATIONAL SECURITY MISCELLANY….Via Heather Hurlburt, here’s a UN Foundation report of key findings from focus groups and a national survey. This is one of those deals where they interview a bunch of people and then segment everyone into cute sounding groups — “Fortress America,” “New Isolationist,” etc. — and I confess that I’m always a little skeptical of these exercises. But for the sake of conversation, here are a few of their findings:

  • There’s only one national security issue that resonates effectively with every demographic group: reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. It’s not the top issue for most people, but it’s the only issue that makes the top 3 for every single group, both left and right.

  • If you want to talk up the goal of getting America more engaged in the world, don’t use the word multilateralism. It polls badly. Use international cooperation instead.

  • Among a group of qualities people want to see in the next president, the top response among Democrats, Republicans, and swing voters is the same: “Is committed to keeping America strong and secure around the world.”

  • Among a set of different messages related to improving America’s role in the world, here’s the one that tested best:

    America can not face all of its enemies or solve the world’s problems alone. We need help. But to gain help we have to work more closely with other countries around the world. We need to share the burden and not be the sole supplier of resources, finances, military forces, and diplomacy for peace in the world.

    This was the only message wording that tested well among all groups on both right, left, and center.

And since this whole thing wouldn’t be complete without a graph, here’s one about generational attitudes. When asked if America should be more actively involved in world affairs or whether we should focus more on issues at home, the answer broke down starkly by age group. Unsurprisingly, young people, who have witnessed the Bush misadventure in Iraq and not much else in their lives, have become pretty jaundiced about America’s role in the world.