President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin (EPA)

The good news for President Obama: The American people are very much behind his decision to launch airstrikes against extremists in Iraq.

The bad news: They still think he's really weak on foreign policy.

A new Fox News poll has a rare bit of praise for Obama's conduct in world affairs, with Americans approving 65-23 of his decision to launch airstrikes in Iraq.

But the same poll shows that, when it comes to foreign policy in general and basically every major overseas conflict -- including Iraq -- Obama is still in pretty rough shape.

Americans disapprove of Obama:

  • 52-37 on Iraq (the same conflict where his decision is quite popular)
  • 53-35 on foreign policy
  • 54-30 on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
  • 50-31 on Ukraine

The numbers on that last point are perhaps most illustrative. The poll also asked people whether Obama is being tough enough on Russia and whether Russian President Vladimir Putin "takes President Barack Obama seriously." On both counts, about three-fourths of Americans answered in the negative. Seventy-four percent said Obama isn't being tough enough, while 77 percent said Putin doesn't respect Obama.

While those numbers are striking, none of the other numbers are terribly surprising. After all, Obama has been struggling on foreign policy for a while now.

But they also show that, even as he's on the right side of his decision to launch airstrikes in Iraq (the most topical foreign policy matter right now) it does little to change the fundamental vision of his foreign policy -- a vision that his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, appeared to distance herself from earlier this week.

And both the Putin/Russia numbers and the stasis of Obama's overall foreign policy reputation in the midst of what was otherwise a popular decision show precisely why Clinton might want to create such distance.