Wednesday, July 8, 2015

American Troops Will be Fighting ISIS in 2017

Although it won’t happen under this president, American troops will be back in Iraq and Syria fighting ISIS if public opinion is the guide. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates 60 percent of the public support sending troops for as “long as it takes” (28%) or “for a short period to allow the Iraqi Army to take over” (32%).

U.S. public opinion on commitments to war and military action must be gauged cautiously. Question wording, response categories and question order can have a major influence on the results. So can the first sign of blood. As the same NBC News/WSJ poll demonstrated, when support for combat troops to fight ISIS is put in a favorability question for presidential candidates, only 52 percent claim they would be more favorably disposed toward the candidate (and only 24% “much more favorable”) if they support deploying combat troops.

And, a recent Fox News poll (6-2-15) shows when a “boots on the ground” question is asked with a range of options for fighting ISIS, drones (71% favor) and more airstrikes (68% favor) are much more popular than “sending a limited number of U.S. ground troops to Iraq and Syria” (51% favor) or “sending a significant number of U.S. troops to Iraq and Syria” (37% favor).

But the same Fox News poll shows there is more than enough survey data to indicate that the ISIS-Middle East policy is in flux and likely to get tougher. The public believes ISIS is a significant threat. Republicans especially want action and the administration is seen as disengaged and uncommitted.

President Obama’s Middle East orientation is shaped by his commitment to end the American military involvement. His September 2014 action to deal with ISIS has been limited to air power, training and equipment, although the rhetoric has been aggressive – “degrade and destroy.” Objective assessments indicate ISIS continues to hold ground and expand its terror into Europe and North Africa. Reluctantly agreeing, the administration has made only modest shifts, most recently adding 500 more trainers.

Republican presidential candidates universally support additional resources to defeat ISIS and most support “boots on the ground.” They are in alignment with Republican partisans, whom 80 percent support and 51 percent are prepared for a long commitment.

See The Buzz:
Public Ahead of President on “Boots on Ground”
Panic in the White House – Foreign Policy
Fall of Ramadi – Obama’s Tet Offensive
Public Supports ISIS Authorization and Some Ground Forces
Obama’s Foreign Policy Era Coming to an End?

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