This is part of a series of posts discussing issues that define the millennial generation. These posts will cover culture, politics, and religion.
With the President’s Saturday announcement that he was turning to congress for an official vote on air strikes in Syria, I thought it would be appropriate to find out what Millennials thought about the Syrian conflict. Unfortunately, I could not find a poll that divided the results by age (if someone does find one I would love to see it). So, I asked my friends, mostly on Facebook, the following question:
Given that the U.S. has engaged in two prolonged military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade (more than half the life of a millennial), does that change your opinion about the value of military intervention in Syria? Or, more generally, should the U.S. intervene overseas military conflicts? Can it make a difference in Syria?
I got two good responses, one for limited strikes and acting and the other believing that we should stay out and keep building at home. Both are fair answers and appear to represent the larger debate going on in the United States about a potential strike in Syria. Instead of just assessing the Syria, I decided to look at broader trends for millennials and foreign policy. The Pew Research Center has done some extensive study on this and found these results:
66% of millennials support diplomacy as a good foreign policy tool and 63% want to take allies concerns into consideration, even if that means compromising foreign policy interests. Millennials appear to be more cooperative and support a cooperative framework to foreign policy rather than a realist or even militeristic one. That is not to say millennials completely oppose using the military:
As you can see, 53% believe using the military for “nation-building” exercises is an appropriate action. Now, I know that one can take poll data and manipulate it to get the results he or she desires. These polls are also very generic and the wording of the questions and answers could have caused a bias in the data results. It is also true that minds do change after that generation comes to power and starts making decisions (just ask your parents). Certainly, certain events, like 9/11, the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, the rise of China, and globalization have an impact on millennials way of thinking which make them somewhat less inclined to intervention and pro-cooperation (Note: the Pew Poll does address feelings on 9/11, the two wars, and China). However, as times change attitudes will probably change. My point is to get a snapshot of potential leads for what the millennial generation might be thinking in terms of foreign policy.
Let me know what you think. What has defined the millennial the generation the most in terms of foreign policy thinking? What are your general thoughts about foreign policy?