Obama US Foreign Policy
US President Barack Obama speaks to military troops at the Fort Bonifacio Gymnasium in Manila. Reuters

Almost half of Americans want their government to pull back from the world stage despite the continuing crises in Ukraine and the Middle East, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.

Fewer than 20% of those surveyed wanted more US engagement in world affairs.

The poll comes at an awkward time for Washington as unrest continues in eastern Ukraine and pro-Russian separatiststake control of central government buildings.

Obama is on a tour of Asia where he has criticised those in his government who urged more military action in hotspots despite the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we've just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?" he asked.

"What is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?"

In 2013, the Pew Reseach Center found that 53% of those polled believed that the US "should mind its own business internationally" compared with 41% in 1995 and 20% in 1964.

One respondent in the most recent survey, Dora Lovett, told the Wall Street Journal that Obama should focus more on domestic issues.

"I just feel like he does more for them [foreign countries] than he does for us," she said. She highlighted foreign aid as an example of Obama's primary international concern.

The survey also showed that, while Obama's foreign policy reputation had slipped, his overall job approval rating rose from 41% in March to 44%.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll questioned 1,000 people.