Polls Show Hawkishness on Iraq, But Doubt About Obama's Prowess


President Obama just gave a speech condemning the beheading of an American freelance journalist by terrorist group the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS), ordered more airstrikes, and military officials are hinting that more troops could be deployed to Iraq soon. How do Americans feel about another chapter in the Iraq War? There are hints of hawkishness, but concern – especially among millennials – that the Obama Administration is not actually capable of executing a quick, effective campaign against ISIL.

A USA Today-Pew poll released on Monday found that "44 percent of Americans believe the U.S. bears a responsibility to 'do something' about the violence," while 41 percent do not. Last month, only 39 percent believed the U.S. ought to do something and 55 percent believed it didn't. Interestingly, the survey also found that "those under 30 are less likely to approve of airstrikes than older Americans are, and they are much more likely to express concern about the risks of an expanding U.S. engagement in Iraq. By more than 3-1, 18-to-29-year-olds worry more that the U.S. will get too involved."

"The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people," asserts Obama, but what exactly is it that we must do?

Pew suggests that 54 percent of the public supports airstrikes. Republicans are collectively more gung-ho than average with 70 percent support. The majority of Democrats (54 percent) are on board with airstrikes, but an even larger portion (62 percent)  of the party is skeptical that such a strategy will "confront this awful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility" as Obama stated earlier today.

And, again, young people seem to be the most cautious:

Nearly seven-in-ten of those under 30 (68 percent) say their greater concern about U.S. military action in Iraq is that the U.S. will get too involved in the situation; just 21 percent are more concerned that the U.S. will not go far enough stopping the Islamic militants. Among those 65 and older, about as many are more concerned that the U.S. will get too involved (41 percent) as worry it will not do enough to stop the militants (39 percent).

This wariness may shed light on broader findings from a recent Reason-Rupe poll, which reported "37 percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing on foreign policy, while 53 percent disapprove."

And, despite expressing support for dropping bombs, Rasmussen research last week found "68 percent of all voters believe the militants are likely to succeed in taking control of Iraq anyway," and as of last month, belief in the notion that America is winning the "War on Terror" has fallen to a 10-year low, according to another Rasmussen survey. 

It's hard to blame Americans for their skepticism. As Foreign Policy's Gordon Lubold points out, the White House is struggling not only to fight the Islamic State, but even to simply define its goals and objectives in Iraq. And, ISIL's forces have grown by an estimated 6,000 in the last month. 

NEXT: Source: Ferguson Cop Who Killed Michael Brown Was "Beaten Very Severely" Before Shooting

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  1. Obama makes Neville Chamberlain look like Winston Churchill.

    1. Funny how half the Peanuts here think Obama is Bush III.

      1. I have zero confidence in your ability to grasp the reason for both accusations. Yes, Bush III has doubled down on most of Bush II’s policies. The difference is that the names on the crony roster have changed and the cronyism has been doubled down on as well.

        As for Obumbles prowess, I have no doubts whatsoever.
        Heh heh heh.

  2. “The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people,”

    Embassy people, certainly. American’s touring routine vacation spots, yes. But the only way to protect reporters who imbed themselves in war zones and waltz into enemy territory is to keep them from going. I doubt that would be popular.

  3. Americans likes a good ‘Whoopin’ Ass’ President until he spends $2 trillion on a losing cause in the Middle East.

    1. Palin’s Buttplug|8.20.14 @ 5:42PM|#
      “Americans likes a good ‘Whoopin’ Ass’ President until he spends $2 trillion on a losing cause in the Middle East.”

      Yeah, turd, that’s what Obo’s done.

  4. Wait a second, the guy they beheaded was a freelance journalist? Now, I know that’s a lesser human being than a real journalist but higher than a civilian, but is a freelance journalist higher or lower on the pecking order than, say, a blogger? How many lives in regular people is the life of a freelance journalist worth?

    It’s hard to believe that ISIS/ISIL is so unsophisticated and media-savvyless that they don’t realize that you can kill all the normal people you want and still get a sympathetic hearing in the media, but killing one of the priesthood is a big no-no. You can’t get away with treating one of the anointed like just plain folks. Expect more media champing at the bit to “do something” about these savages.

    1. In political terms it meant he was worth 1/100th of Bo Bergdahl, American Hero

  5. OK wow that is why we roll with it.,

  6. Was I the only one struck by how bored he sounded during his speech?

    1. I can’t comment any more, as the sound of his voice commits my body to involuntary acts of self-preservation, such as turning down the volume, changing the station, leaving the room where the noise of his voice is emanating, etc.

      So – I never hear him say a word these days. This is not a bad thing.

    2. You might have been the only one watching his speech.

      1. Heard it on the radio. With suitable fellation by the “news” staff.

    3. It was not boredom, it was distraction.

      He was already visualizing his first tee shot.

  7. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  8. I was worried that I would go to my grave ignorant of what the millennials think about this matter. Thank you, Reason, for unburdening me of that concern.

  9. The majority of Democrats (54 percent) are on board with airstrikes

    War is good as long as it’s our guy.


    1. That is some rather impressive squinting.

        1. No, it is. Really.

          1. Daily reminder: Bo is retarded.

  10. Well the “limited focus” was fun while it lasted.

  11. I was concerned what the Millenials think. They must be this administration’s version of the Amy Carter filter for presidential decision-making.

  12. Running back to the golf course directly after giving this speech probably doesn’t strengthen American opinion about Obama’s prowess.

    1. Ds don’t care.
      He could fart his speech and the turds of the world would cheer anyhow.

  13. He had to get us out of Iraq to get into Iraq

  14. This is a serious question… how do you define “hawkish?”

    To me, I think of hawkish as “Iran is getting on our nerves, let’s invade.” Saying that “oh shit, Iraq is falling apart, we’d better get involved before the mess we created gets worse” doesn’t seem hawkish to me. Misguided, perhaps, but not hawkish.

    Again, I’m not saying we should necessarily get involved, but to label anyone who doesn’t want to completely stay out as hawkish seems a bit extreme.

    1. ‘Hawkish’ can mean whatever you want. To the peacenazis, it means anything not keeping in line with The Faith of Noninterventionism.

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