The PJ Tatler

Americans Dovish, New Poll Finds

Politicians and pundits apparently have more interest in asserting American strength on the world stage than do the American people. From Fox News:

It’s no secret that after a decade of bloodshed and sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans are weary of war. But the numbers in a new Politico poll bring home how sizable majorities are increasingly wary of further foreign entanglements.

Take Ukraine, which became a flash point when Russia invaded Crimea and has dominated the news since the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane, almost definitely by pro-Russian separatists. When the pollsters asked whether the U.S should do more to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine, only 17 percent of likely voters said yes. Another 34 percent said America should be less involved, while 31 percent backed the Obama administration’s current approach. (The poll was taken before the jet was shot down.)

What about Syria, which shattered President Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons and has been suppressing a rebellion for years. Some 42 percent of likely voters want less U.S. involvement, while 15 percent want more and 26 percent back our limited level of involvement.

And then there are the two wars that have roiled American politics since 9/11. An overwhelming 77 percent support Obama’s plan to pull all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, with 23 percent in opposition.

And in Iraq, where tremendous gains by ISIS sparked a fierce debate over whether Obama should have left some troops in the country, 44 percent want less involvement and 19 percent favor more involvement, with 23 percent supporting the current level of engagement.

These are staggering figures that reveal a chasm between most politicians and a majority of voters. Many Americans are understandably focused on the problems in their daily lives and not terribly worried about what happens in Donetsk or Aleppo.

Have we become a nation of wimps? Or, has the Washington set been operating under a false dichotomy between restraint and strength?

An opportunity seems to be presented here for a new kind of foreign policy posture, one focused on quick and decisive victory against objective threats to American lives, but otherwise reluctant to intervene in wholly foreign affairs. Will Rand Paul fill that void? Many Republicans won’t trust him to recognize objective threats. Yet, his seems to be the only voice deviating from the bipartisan Washington choir. Who else might thread the needle between isolationism and military adventurism by articulating a vigorous defense that nonetheless minds our own business?

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 10:01 minutes long; 9.68 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)