Americans are increasingly unhappy with President Barack Obama’s handling of ISIS, and a growing share of the nation believes that fight is going badly, according to a new CNN/ORC survey released Monday. The CNN/ORC poll found 57% of Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling the threat posed by ISIS, a significant decline in support for the President over the past few months. In late September, that number was 49%. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of his handling of foreign affairs more broadly, and 54% disapprove of how the President is handling terrorism. Another 60% rate Obama negatively on his handling of electronic national security.
Some 78 percent of Americans favor a Congressional vote to authorize force against the Islamic state while the percentage of those who approve ground troops in Iraq or Syria is up to 47 percent. As for Republicans the numbers reflect an even more hawkish disposition. A remarkable 79 percent of Republicans want Congress to vote for military force against the Islamic State, 66 percent think the war is going badly or very badly and 60 percent want to send ground troops.
That is both bad news for Hillary Clinton who refuses to criticize the president and for Republicans who share many of Obama’s faults — a preference for half-measures, a reluctance to fully fund defense, a disinclination to robustly defend effect anti-terrorism tools and the belief that American involvement in hot spots is more trouble than its worth. In other words Republicans don’t want Obama-lite foreign policy.
This Wednesday Jeb Bush will give a speech on foreign policy. Rather than worry about his brother or the accusation he might want to impose democracy (which we did NOT set out to do in Iraq and which is not at issue when defending against a vicious and aggressive Islamic foe) Bush would be wise not to trim his sails nor resist specifics. He needs to forthrightly reject Obama’s penchant for ignoring the nature of the jihadist threat and Islamic terrorists’ targeting of Jews and Christians. He should deplore any notion that acts are “random” or “senseless’; they are evil and directed at achieving fanatical ends. It is time for clear choices:
For or against ground troops: The military commanders and outside experts say we will have to, so why not concede the obvious and go after Obama, Hillary Clinton and his GOP rivals who refuse to recognize reality?
For or against Iran sanctions: Is there any serious argument that lessening pressure on Iran will make them give up their nukes? In fact, Bush would be advised to discuss other means of pressuring Iran (e.g. how to make the military threat more viable) and repudiate the notion of a tacit alliance with Iran. To be blunt, since Obama’s idea of “negotiating” with Iran is to give the mullahs whatever they want, it is time to give up the blather that “we favor negotiations.” Not by this president.
For or against funding the military: Anything less than unequivocal support for at least pre-sequester levels of spending is grossly irresponsible.
For of against getting rid of Bashar al-Assad: Is there any doubt the administration gravely erred in refusing to push him out and amply support non-jihadist rebels when we had a chance? And let’s be clear — the Republicans who fought against enforcement of the red line were complicit in creating a monster and allowing non-jihadists to be crippled.
For or against our policy for Ukraine: Is there any question that the partition of an ally we were pledged to defend is an abomination?
For or against normalization of relations with Cuba: Can there be a worse example of giving everything to a tyrant’s demands and selling dissidents down the drain?
For Bush or for any Republican hopeful it is good policy and good politics to reject emphatically and completely the Obama foreign policy and the subsidiary efforts (e.g. crippling the NSA, keeping the defense sequester in place, disengaging entirely from Iraq), some of which were supported by 2016 contenders. It’s silly for Jeb Bush to try to either associate or disassociate himself from his brother’s and father’s foreign policy positions. We live in a different world, one made far more dangerous because of misguided policies over the last six years. At this point Jeb Bush needs to be the most unequivocal critic of failed policies and foolish imitators of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy flubs.