What are Americans thinking when it comes to our foreign policy strategy for the future?

Pubilc Agenda, a non-partisan research company, has the numbers [pdf] and they’re consistent with what we’ve been seeing for the past couple years as we’ve seen more terrorists pop up and no discernible political progress being made in Iraq.

Why so unpopular?

First, I think it has to do with the fact that people are struggling to make ends meet, and they just can’t square the cost with the returns. McCain is going to have a hard time convincing folks that the amount of money we’re spending there is worth it because if Bush’s $200 billion gets approved for Iraq, that’ll represent nearly $800 billion spent in Iraq so far, with $12 million being spent every month in 2008. In other words, what’s the security ROI?

Second, I think many voters are savvy enough to realize that our credibility to defend ourselves if we do need to strike preemptively again has been damaged by shooting first and asking questions later. That’s why we’re seeing robust diplomacy being heavily favored.

Obviously there are more reasons, but if I had to pinpoint the main ones, economy and credibility would be the top, with everything else a distance second.

So which candidate benefits the most from these trends? If McCain can effectively distance himself from Bush’s preemptive blunders, he may be able to convince a few swing voters that his militaristic approach to Iran is better suited, however…

…only 7% favor military intervention in Iran and nearly half favor diplomacy. Obama definitely has the leg up…especially when it comes to the question of Iran.

Again, I think Americans are beginning to run the cost/benefit analyses for military force vs. diplomacy, and talking to our enemies looks a whole hell of a lot better to them.

Perhaps we’re finally starting to emerge from the post-9/11 fear cloud?

Politics Poll: Public Heavily Favors Diplomacy Over Military Force