Expert and popular opinions often don't intersect. And that has become particularly true in a political era characterized by a dislike for Washington, distrust of elite opinion, and the ascendency of Tea Party populism. While elite opinions about U.S. military and national-security affairs are in tune with those of the broader American public in some areas, such as President Barack Obama's handling of China, they diverge wildly in others, such as the threat posed by a nuclear Iran and defense spending. At least some of this divergence may come from the simple fact that Americans' top concerns these days relate to the economy -- not defense issues.
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