Few Americans Want US More Involved in Current Wars in Ukraine and Gaza, AP-NORC Poll Finds

Israeli troops move near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel
Israeli troops move near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, Monday, March 4, 2024. The army is battling Palestinian militants across Gaza in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg, File)

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. navigates involvement in the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, few Americans want the country to take a more active role in solving the world's problems, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

While an American role as the “world’s policeman” has become an increasingly contentious partisan issue, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans agree that the U.S. should not get more involved than it currently is in the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Hamas.

The poll shows that 4 in 10 U.S. adults want America to broadly take a “less active” role in solving global conflicts. Only about one-quarter think the U.S. should take a more active role, and about one-third say its current role is about right.

The findings underscore the difficult dynamics that both President Joe Biden and the likely Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, face in the leadup to next November’s election. Significant swaths of the electorate are frustrated by the searing images of the growing humanitarian crisis in the five month war in Gaza and the hefty costs already incurred by the U.S in helping Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion.

The Biden administration has become increasingly blunt in recent days in pressing Israel and Hamas to come to terms for a cease-fire that would last at least six weeks and would facilitate the release of dozens of hostages that were taken captive by militants when Hamas launched it’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Just two decades ago, GOP leaders were calling for Americans to embrace the “ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Now, while few U.S. adults on either side of the aisle want the nation to take a more active position, Republicans, at 53%, are roughly twice as likely as Democrats, at 25%, to say the country should have less active involvement abroad. About half (52%) of Democrats say the U.S.'s current position is “about right.”

Many Republicans cite America's bloody and futile history of intervention in countries like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I feel like there’s a lot of conflicts that we've been involved in that don’t ever have any positive results,” Kurt Bunde, a Republican from Idaho, told AP. “We might have good intentions. We might feel obligated to protect our allies’ interests, but the results speak for themselves.”

Where the U.S. should be focusing its international military resources is also a subject of debate, with Republicans and Democrats disagreeing over whether the nation should be taking a more active role in the war between Ukraine and Russia or the war between Israel and Hamas.

Among U.S. adults overall, there isn’t much appetite for a more active role in either conflict: Only about 2 in 10 U.S. adults say the U.S. should be taking a more active role in each war. For each, about 4 in 10 say the current role is about right, and 36% say the U.S. needs to take a step back.

But Republicans and independents are more likely than Democrats to say that the U.S. should dial down its support for Ukraine. About half of Republicans and independents want the U.S. to take a less active role in the war between Ukraine and Russia, compared to only 18% of Democrats.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago, the U.S. has sent $111 billion in weapons, equipment, humanitarian assistance and other aid to Ukraine. A $95 billion package of aid is now languishing in Congress due to Republican opposition as Ukrainian soldiers begin to ration ammunition.

“America is spread thin like everywhere, and we need to take care of our own first," Matt Wood, a Republican from Kentucky, said in an interview. “Then, if we can, if we have the resources available, then we can help other countries.”

Half of Democrats say the U.S.’s current role in the Russia-Ukraine war is about right, and 30% want a more active role. Across the board, Democrats are more likely to favor U.S. intervention in Ukraine: Nearly 6 in 10 think it's very or extremely important for the U.S. to provide aid to Ukraine’s military to fight Russia or negotiate a permanent cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine, while only 24% of Republicans prioritize more military aid and 41% of Republicans say it's extremely or very important for the U.S. to help broker a permanent ceasefire.

“I think that we have to take some responsibility just because of the effect of our power and the amount of wealth we have,” Christina Taylor, a Maryland Democrat, said. “I think for us to decrease our responsibilities or to decrease our interest in other countries is against the kind of country we are.”

Even though aid to Israel usually receives bipartisan support in Congress — and is often a priority for GOP politicians — about 4 in 10 Republicans think the U.S. should take a less active role in the war between Israel and Hamas.

“I really think it’s none of us our business because it’s Israel’s war,” Donna Cole, a Missouri Republican, told AP. “The only role that the United States should have is to bring back any Americans who are hostages.”

She added, “But we should not be putting restraints on Israel or, for that matter, restraints on the Palestinians.”

About half of Democrats think the U.S.'s current role in the Israel-Hamas war is about right, while the rest are split on whether the U.S. should take a more or less active role. Independents are slightly more likely than members of either political party to say the U.S. should take a less active role, and only 11% want the U.S. to be more involved.

There are large partisan divides, too, on the kind of aid that the U.S. should provide in the Israel-Hamas war. About one-third of Republicans think it's extremely or very important for the U.S. to provide aid to Israel's military to fight Hamas, compared to 20% of Democrats. On the other hand, about 6 in 10 Democrats say it's extremely or very important for the U.S. to help negotiate a permanent cease-fire and provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, while 34% of Republicans prioritize U.S. help with a cease-fire and 15% of Republicans think it's important for the U.S. to provide humanitarian aid.

Taylor, who is a nurse, said that the only active role the U.S. should be taking in the conflict in Gaza is pushing back on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s military response.

“We’re not doing enough to push the Israelis to lighten up a little bit because I think they’re overstepping," Taylor said.


The poll of 1,102 adults was conducted Feb. 22-26, 2024, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Associated Press White House reporter Aamer Madhani contributed.

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