YouGov poll: Republicans support airstrikes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan -- and Iran, Lebanon, and Gaza

A characteristically enjoyable entry from YouGov, with obvious bearing on the hawks-versus-doves battle that’s shaping up in the 2016 Republicans primaries. For starters, this table made me smile grimly just because I’m not sure either these days what the correct answers are.


The first two on the left are easy — although I wonder if the Iraq numbers are based on specific news about ISIS or just a general sense among the public at this point in history that the U.S. is always bombing Iraq for some reason or another. The last two on the right are easy too. The ones in the middle are … harder. We’re not bombing Syria yet but there’s been lots of chatter about it lately in the White House and Pentagon. We’ve bombed jihadis in Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen recently and not so recently, although I’m not sure offhand what the official policy is at this point after Obama’s big speech on drones last year. My takeaway from that was that he hoped to bomb these countries less. Can you blame the public for being confused?

As for where we should be bombing, there’s good news and bad news for Rand Paul. The good news: I’m pretty sure no one onstage with him at the debates will endorse hitting Lebanon, Gaza, or Ukraine, notwithstanding support among Republicans for bombing enemies in each — although I put nothing past super-hawk Marco Rubio. (Ukraine is an even 38/38 split among Republicans, actually.) The bad news: Is a party that’s willing to start droning Hamas or Hezbollah — with whom we’re now de facto allied against ISIS, do note — really going to nominate a guy running on a “modest” interventionism platform? I ask you.

Here’s what YouGov found when it asked people if they approve or disapprove of U.S. airstrikes or drone strikes in each country. Those who approve:


Those who disapprove:


There’s at least plurality support among Republicans, Democrats, and independents for hitting each of the first six countries listed. Iran is a close call, with Democrats evenly split and independents mildly against airstrikes but Republicans overwhelmingly in favor. Dems and indies are fairly decisively opposed to strikes in Gaza and Lebanon, though, while Republicans are mildly supportive. And in Ukraine, the GOP is squarely divided on whether we should flirt with World War III by bombing Putin’s pro-Russian separatist proxies in the east (or, maybe, bombing Russian troops who’ve entered the country.) I’m already looking forward to Rand’s next op-ed at Time: “I’d be open to bombing every enemy country in the world under certain circumstances.”