Nearly half of all Americans don’t believe the United States is the world’s leading military power, the most that have felt that way since 1999, according to a new Gallup poll.
The poll asked 1,015 adults whether they believed the United States was the world’s military leader, or one of several. Only 50 percent said it was number one.
Gallup also asked people whether they thought being a military power was important. Some 62 percent said it was — in line with 2007, the last year Gallup polled, but down from a high of 70 percent in 2000:
Interestingly, public perception of the U.S. military has apparently been falling since 2010, a year that saw a major surge in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq. Despite the gradual reduction of U.S. efforts on those fronts, the United States is still widely considered the world’s foremost military power — as Joshua Keating points out at Foreign Policy, the United States spends more on its military than the next 13 countries combined.
That spending has, of course, been the subject of intense sequestration-themed debate in recent weeks.