WASHINGTON – Despite rising criticism of his foreign policy– even from his former secretary of state – President Obama’s decision last week to carry out airstrikes against Islamic Statemilitants in northern Iraq enjoys relatively strong public support, at least so far.
Over half (54 percent) of respondents in a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center and USA Today said they approved of the airstrikes, which appear to have helped reverse some of the gains made by IS fighters against Kurdistan’s pesh merga earlier this month.
The survey comes as the administration broadened its air campaign against suspected IS targets in northern Iraq and rushed arms and other supplies to U.S.-trained Iraq special forces units and the pesh merga.
Thirty-one percent said they disapproved of the strikes, while 15 percent of the 1,000 randomly selected respondents who took part in the survey, which was carried out between Thursday and Sunday, declined to give an opinion.
The poll found major partisan differences, with self-described republicans markedly more hawkish than democrats or independents, although a majority of democratic respondents said they also supported the airstrikes.
However, a majority (57 percent) of republicans said they were concerned that Obama was not prepared to go “far enough to stop” IS, while a majorities of democrats (62 percent) and independents (56 percent) said they worried that he may go too far in re-inserting the U.S. military into Iraq three years after the last U.S. combat troops were withdrawn. Overall, 51 percent of respondents expressed the latter fear.
That concern was felt particularly strongly by younger respondents, members of the so-called “millennial” generation, whose foreign-policy views have tended to be far more sceptical of the effectiveness of military force than those of other generational groups, according to a number of polls that have been released over the past two years.
Thus, while respondents over the age of 65 were roughly equally split between those who expressed concern about Obama doing too little or going too far, more than two-thirds of millennials said they were worried about the U.S. becoming too involved in Iraq, while only 21 percent voiced the opposing view.
The survey comes as the administration broadened its air campaign against suspected ISIS targets in northern Iraq and rushed arms and other supplies to U.S.-trained Iraq special forces units and the pesh merga, the Kurdish militia whose forces proved unable to defend against IS’s initial advances that took its forces to within 35 kms of Erbil, Kurdistan’s capital.