As the United States military recovers from two decade-long wars – neither of which were won decisively – and endures significant downsizing, do Americans think it’s still the best in the world?
The answer is increasingly ‘no,’ according to a new Gallup poll. Last year the number of Americans who thought they were protected by the world’s strongest military was 59 percent, but this year that number has dropped to 49 percent – the lowest figure in the 23 years Gallup has recorded the trend.
While America’s military has been stressed by 13 years of war, experts say the poll results are more an indication of how the public – influenced by election year rhetoric – is struggling to come to terms with the enduring threat to the US and what an effective military looks like.
The poll results are, in part, “a reflection of the changing nature of warfare,” says David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland.
“Being the strongest nation militarily doesn’t count as much given the wars we’re fighting,” he adds. “You can’t field a huge infantry and armor and defeat an insurgency. It’s been a long time since we’ve won a war like that.”
Yet the sight of America’s protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the downsizing across the Armed Forces (including an ongoing 40,000-troop drawdown from the US Army), and persistent condemnation from Republican presidential nominees of the drop in military spending seem to have convinced more of the public that the country’s military is a shadow of its former self.
Full article: Why is America losing faith in its military? (Christian Science Monitor)