For a Peaceful World
Posted by: eric on December 2, 2009 at 3:26 pm
Last night President Obama addressed the nation with a plan for a buildup of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In his speech he said “our security is at stake” and used the speech to announce his intentions to add 30,000 troops to be deployed to Afghanistan. This blog post is not so much to comment on President Obama’s decision but rather to offer insight into how young Americans feel about war and foreign policy.
Generation We strongly believes in a cooperative, multilateral approach to foreign policy and solving global problems. The Millennials already see themselves as part of an interconnected planet linked by the Internet and other technologies that are integral parts of their lives. Tolerant and accepting of different cultures, they consider isolationism contrary to their social and political mores. Further, deeply influenced by what they perceive as a failed U.S. response to the terror attacks of 9/11 and a disastrous war in Iraq, they are ready to jettison the unilateral approach to world affairs that has characterized the far right, the neoconservatives, and the Bush Administration.
Generation We seems more oriented toward a multilateral and cooperative foreign policy than their elders. Pew Values data show that 18- to 25-year-old Millennials in 2002–03 were split down the middle on whether military strength is the best way to ensure peace, while older adults endorsed this idea 61 to 35.
In 2004 Pew data, only 29 percent of 18- to 25-year-old Millennials believed that “using overwhelming force is the best way to defeat terrorism,” compared to 67 percent who thought “relying too much on military force leads to hatred and more terrorism.” By contrast, those 26 and over were much more closely split (49–41). In addition, 62 percent
of 18- to 25-year-olds believe the United States should take into account the interests of its allies even if it means making compromises with them, compared to 52 percent of their elders.
Furthermore, in November 2004 Democracy Corps polling, 57 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds (Note: Only the 18- to 26-year-olds in this group qualify as Millennials.) believed that America’s security depends on building strong ties with other nations, compared to just 37 percent who believed that, “bottom line,” America’s security depends on its own military strength. This was the most pro-multilateralist sentiment of any age group.
Moreover, when the same question was asked of 18- to 29-yearolds in 2007 in the Greenberg Millennial Survey (GMS,) when all members of that age group were Millennials, sentiment was even stronger on the multilateral side. In that survey, 69 percent said that America’s security depends on building strong ties with other nations, compared to only 30 percent who thought that America’s security depends on its own military strength.
More than any other recent generation, Generation We rejects dogma and propaganda that pits one race or nation against another. Boundaries mean little to them, especially in comparison to their idealistic vision of a peaceful world. Having lived much of their lives in a nation at war, they yearn for a united planet in which the environment is being cleaned up and resources that might be squandered on arms and warfare are devoted instead to creating a prosperous, secure world. Generation We wants the same opportunity previous generations had to raise their families in peace, and given the opportunity they will vote, organize, and act in support of that objective.