A NEW COOPERATIVE SECURITY APPROACH is replacing traditional notions of national defense, which is driven by an increase in preventive and humanitarian military interventions. This has been occurring for complex strategic reasons.1 Benjamin Fordham has shown that concerns about the welfare of allies have an immediate impact on the decision for the United States to intervene.2 Stephen Saideman sees domestic political concerns and public opinion driving intervention.3 Logically, democratic will should be reflected in policy, which includes decisions to use the military for security assistance and to relieve human suffering.4 Since World War II, the majority of American adults have consistently indicated that the United States should be a world power actively engaged in international affairs.5 While there was a clear case to be made for supporting allies and advancing other interests during the Cold War, public support for an internationalist role did not diminish when fears about great power war disappeared in 1991. In 2006 (after two very difficult years in Iraq), 69 percent of Americans thought the United States should be active in international affairs, which is just one point higher than in 1947 and two points below 1956.6 Unexpectedly, mixed outcomes in Iraq did not undermine the interventionist strain of U.S. foreign policy but instead were met with calls for escalation in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. To be sure, “active” does not necessarily mean military intervention, but given how presidents use the military in non-warfighting ways, U.S. foreign policy has an important security assistance component.
While Americans do support an activist foreign policy, survey data suggest that the United States should not behave as the world's sheriff. Instead, 60 percent of Americans agree that the United States should be more willing to make decisions within the United Nations.7 The Iraq experience certainly colors perceptions of U.S. intervention, but this finding is consistent with concerns about transnational threats that require multilateral solutions. In today's security environment, it seems that terrorism, rogue states, disease, and other concerns associated with weak states impact Americans' thinking about security. This is reflected