It looks like the ideas of soft power and leading from behind aren’t quite as popular on the home front these days.
By a wide margin, Americans voters support sending ground troops to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
Sixty-two percent said they support boots on the ground, while 30 percent said they do not. The response comes after well-publicized deaths of the group’s hostages, including the American captive Kayla Mueller, and the revelation that a militant in their beheading videos known as “Jihadi John” came from a well-educated, middle-class background in the U.K.
Americans are not inclined to change the U.S. policy of not paying ransoms for hostages, according to the poll. Seventy-two percent said the government should never pay.
There’s really no mystery here. Barack Obama has bet his foreign policy on the assumption that the American people are sick and tired of nearly one and a half decades of war. And to a certain extent, that’s still a valid assumption. I think the polls which ask about putting troops in other places still reflect that we’re not in a very interventionist state of mind at the moment. But ISIS is different, and even if it’s precisely what the terrorist monsters want (it is…) they are getting the desired response from American citizens.
The game changed the moment Jihadi John dragged a knife across the throat of an American and captured it on film. We may be tired of war in general, but America doesn’t put up with that. Unfortunately for the White House, Barack Obama has stiffened his back for so long and remained wedded to the idea of leading from behind that it would be difficult for him to turn around now and send in The Big Red One. This disconnect between the Oval Office and main street is no doubt what explains his current approval rating on the specific topic of foreign policy. At a negative rate of 53.5 to 37.5, Obama is so far underwater that he needs scuba gear just to real the poll results.
In the end, though, our future on this front rests squarely on the shoulders of the President and nobody else. If they had a serious interest in doing so, Congress could declare all out war with a new resolution, but that changes nothing. The Legislative branch can declare war, but only the Executive can wage it, and thus far Barack Obama shows no stomach for launching a major offensive to wipe ISIS off the face of the Earth.