The American people are innately Jacksonian. They rejected the elite pushes on Syria and Libya for the same reason they now want to destroy ISIS – because they believe the purpose of the American military shouldn’t be to nation build or police countries, but to kill and destroy evildoers who threaten us and our interests. That’s why the humanitarian agenda and the democracy agenda couldn’t take hold in Syria – Assad was smart enough not to chop heads off Americans (that doesn’t make for good Vogue profile material, after all).
The media has trumpeted various polls over the past few years regarding the shifting opinions of Americans. But if you reconsider the elections of the past few years as the expression of American beliefs about foreign policy, a different picture emerges. Americans want a military that is strong but rarely deployed, and then deployed only to kill and destroy those who are clearly enemies of the nation and our interests. They want a state that maintains security without mass violations of privacy. They dislike permanent prisons and reject the droning of American citizens, but have less objections to the “enhanced interrogation” of prisoners (Hollywood has convinced Americans of two things over the past decade: gay marriage is great, and torture works).