We War-Loving Americans

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 1 2014 @ 11:21am

Aaron Blake highlights a new poll showing rising public support for Obama’s ISIS strategy:

The newest WaPo-ABC poll shows 50 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the Islamic State, as compared to 44 percent who disapprove. That’s an improvement from August, when the question referenced only Iraq and not Syria, and 42 percent of Americans gave Obama a vote of confidence. Obama’s new polling heights come as Americans overwhelmingly approve of the airstrikes he ordered in Syria. Seven in 10 Americans (70 percent) support the airstrikes — up from 65 percent in early September. His decision to send American forces to train Iraqi troops and coordinate airstrikes against the Islamic State in that country is less popular, but still gets positive marks: 53 percent support and 44 percent opposition.

Drum is dismayed at how comfortable we are with going to war yet again:

According to polls, nearly two-thirds of Americans are on board with the fight against ISIS and nearly half think we ought to be sending in ground troops. That’s despite the fact that practically every opinion leader in the country says in public that they oppose ground troops. At this point it would take only a tiny shove—a bomb scare, an atrocity of some kind, pretty much anything—and 70 percent of the country would be in full-bore war frenzy mode.

It’s like we’ve learned nothing from the past decade. Our politicians are in love with war. The public is in love with war. And the press is really in love with war. It just never ends.

Larison rejects at least one of Drum’s conclusions:

I don’t see much evidence that the public is “in love” with war. Yes, there is currently majority support for the administration’s decision to attack ISIS from the air, but there is reason to believe that this support is shallow and likely to evaporate as the war drags on. According to at least one survey, most Americans also consider ISIS to be a “very serious” or “fairly serious” threat to the U.S., and that simply isn’t true. This false belief has inflated public support for action against ISIS, and that is going to wear off over time. Far from being “in love” with war, a better way to think of the public’s reaction is that they have been whipped into a panic about a vastly exaggerated threat by irresponsible fear-mongers. Most Americans support the current intervention because they wrongly think it is necessary for U.S. security, and they have been encouraged in that wrong view by their sorry excuse for political leaders.

Linker sees the entire 2016 field subscribing to war love:

From the president and Hillary Clinton on through a long line of possible Republican candidates, no one likely to be involved in the 2016 race for the White House seems inclined to diverge from the militaristic consensus that dominates official Washington and plays so well in the American heartland. It’s war-lovers everywhere you look. Very much including when the American people look at themselves in the mirror.