In This Review

Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism
Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism
By Steven Kull and I. M. Destler
Brookings Institution Press, 1999, 230 pp

This book shows why Buchanan's worldview is such an anachronism. No more than ten percent of Americans really want their country to turn away from the world and its global institutions. In fact, public opinion is much more open to international engagement than most of America's current leaders realize. Support for internationalism actually seems to have gone up since the Cold War ended, perhaps because of a vague but strong sense of growing global interdependence. Kull and Destler show that even members of Congress (those supposedly sensitive weathervanes) are quite mistaken about public opinion on these issues, often misled by their constituent mail. In their most beguiling chapter, the authors cleverly devise a way to let citizens allocate money according to their own vision of the federal budget. In their sample, average citizens tend to increase domestic spending, double spending on the State Department, triple spending on the United Nations, and pay for it all by cutting defense by 40 percent.