Americans Pessimistic About International Affairs in 2018

(CN) – Most Americans predict that 2018 will bring with it new international troubles as well as economic prosperity, according to a Gallup poll released last week.

Since 1961, the pollster has asked Americans their predictions about what may come in the new year.

Eight out of ten Americans believe disputes with other countries will mark 2018. While that number has generally remained high in the last 57 years that Gallup has been asking about international affairs, only 19 percent of Americans expect 2018 to be peaceful.

The only times Americans expected peace less were in 1980 during the Iranian hostage crisis and in 1966 when the U.S. increased deployment of Marines to Vietnam.

“The pessimism about the nation’s chances for peace in 2018 is likely related to the ongoing conflict with North Korea over its nuclear capabilities, prominent terrorist attacks at home and abroad, and discord with Russia about its possible interference in the 2016 election,” Alyssa Davis, Gallup’s deputy managing editor, wrote in her analysis of the poll’s results.

Americans are also somewhat dubious about the U.S.’s influence in the world. A relatively low amount of respondents said they expect the U.S. to increase its world power in 2018.

“While about half of Americans (49%) expect the U.S. to increase its power in the world in 2018, this is lower than in 14 of the 17 years Gallup has asked the question,” Davis wrote. “Americans are more optimistic now than they were when making a prediction for 2013, after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The other exceptions were for 1974 and 1976, as the Watergate scandal was unfolding and during the ongoing energy crisis.”

As President Donald Trump’s former staff members have been indicted for improper Russian contacts during the 2016 election, 2018 could swing more opinions to the negative about U.S. power.

“The United States’ power in the world could be a sore spot for Trump and the GOP in the year ahead,” Davis wrote. “Americans rated the United States’ world standing as the worst in a decade in February 2017. Domestic events such as special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election could also affect perceptions of the nation’s power abroad as the New Year unfolds.”

Despite Americans’ pessimism about international matters, they have reserved some optimism for the national economy. A little more than half of those polled said they see 2018 as a year of economic prosperity, compared to 47 percent who think rough economic tides lay ahead.

This optimism comes after three solid quarters of economic growth in 2017 and the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates by a quarter-point, a move intended to stave off inflation that is also considered a sign of a strong economy.

Calls made to Gallup for comment were not returned by press time.

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