By Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center
Special to Foreign Policy
Who speaks for American foreign policy? The public or foreign affairs elites? It is a question that people outside the United States frequently ask, confused by the contrast between the erudite reassurances about the U.S. role in the world that they often receive from American diplomats and think-tank pundits and what foreigners disconcertingly perceive as politically driven Washington foreign policy.
This disconnect in perception and priorities between the views of experts and the general public is often discounted (by elites) as either expected or irrelevant. And it does reflect the inevitable tension between policy and politics in any democratic country. But it also comes with a cost: an often contradictory and confusing mixed message to foreigners about America’s intentions on the world stage.
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