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Race, Ethnicity, and American Views on US Foreign Policy

In the United States, opinions of national security threats are shifting, highly politicized, and closely tied to identity. At the same time, the country is more racially diverse than at any time in its past. What does that mean for the future of US foreign policy? To find out, we partnered with New America to take a deeper look at American views across racial and ethnic backgrounds on immigrationclimate change, and military engagement.

Some key takeaways: 

  • Partisanship is significantly associated with views on immigration and diversity across and within racial and ethnic groups. Republicans feel more threatened by immigrants and refugees than do Democrats or Independents.
  • Asian, Hispanic, and Black Americans are notably more concerned about climate change than other groups, though a majority of Americans consider it a critical threat to the United States.
  • Most Americans see military power and security alliances as an effective way to achieve US foreign policy goals. Asian and white Americans are more comfortable than other racial groups, however, with deploying US troops in scenarios like a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or if Russia were to invade a NATO ally.

Check out the full research collection.

The Data Dimension

What do America’s demographic shifts mean for the direction of the country? A slight majority (53%) of all Americans say that growing diversity makes the United States a better place to live, with Asian (66%) and Hispanic Americans (61%) the most likely to agree. 

What We're Watching

  • Henry Kissinger’s “hideous” legacy: “His foreign policy program not only lacked a moral compass or compassion, but his national security choices helped destabilize and destroy parts of the world that have still not recovered," Senior Fellow Elizabeth Shackelford reflects in the Chicago Tribune
  • The cost of hunger: Childhood malnutrition has lifelong consequences for individuals and the global community. Senior Fellow Roger Thurow joins host Brian Hanson on Deep Dish to explain what you can do to help. 
  • China’s salami tactics in Taiwan: “Neither Taipei nor Washington and its allies has an effective response to Beijing’s slow strategy of steady strangulation,” Council President Ivo Daalder writes in Politico
  • Sanctions and the southern border: US sanctions in Latin America have exacerbated the worsening economic and political conditions driving the current migrant surge, Research Assistant Emma Sanderson argues in Global Insight

Ask an Expert

The G7 recently announced new sanctions on Russia. When are sanctions effective?

"a headshot of Ethan Kesler"

“Sanctions can work if they have buy-in from other major countries. In the 1980s, Western sanctions on South Africa isolated its economy, reducing domestic support for the apartheid regime, which soon fell. Similarly, in the '90s, US-led sanctions successfully weakened Iraq because other powerful countries joined in. If sanctions target a country or group that can turn to outside help, they will be less effective.” 

—Research Associate Ethan Kessler in a recent explainer video 

About the Author
Communications Officer
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As the communications officer for the Lester Crown Center, Libby Berry works to connect audiences with foreign policy research and analysis.
headshot of Libby Berry