Most Americans Say Obama Too Weak On Foreign Policy

Let's just say this image does not communicate toughness to most Americans, and most likely not to Putin and the Islamic State crew either. But it isn't golf that's the problem. It's the world going on off the links and the way Obama is playing that game that is really disturbing more and more Americans—including many Democrats.
A new Pew Poll shows that a majority of Americans (54%) say that Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy is “Not tough enough”, and a growing number of Americans say that the United States needs to do more to solve the problems of a world that 65% of respondents said was “more dangerous” today than a few years ago.

The Pew study showed that in the nine months since November, 2013, American opinion on the need for the US to become more involved in solving global problems has changed, with the number of people thinking the US does “too much” meddling in the world dropping from 51% to 39%. Meanwhile, those that think the US isn’t doing enough has risen from 17% to 31%.

Looking more deeply into these numbers shows that the biggest shift in the push to have the US go global comes mainly from Republicans, whose party began the War on Terror, and managed it for the first seven years, under President George W. Bush. Almost half (46%) of Republicans think the US is doing too little to solve the world’s problems.

Meanwhile, in terms of threat perception, the last few months have pushed American public awareness of IS (or ISIL, The Islamic State) as a threat to the United States to a point (67%) just behind al-Qaeda (71%). However, there are partisan differences, as Republicans, unlike the majority of Americans, view Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs as major threats to the United States as well. And meanwhile, Democrats view global climate change as even more threatening than al-Qaeda or the The Islamic State.

For Democrats, probably the most troubling single indication of the Pew survey is the news that the American people have arrived at a verdict on Barack Obama’s toughness as a world leader and they have determined he does not measure up.

Since June, 2009, respondents to Pew have answered a question about Obama’s toughness “when it comes to foreign policy and national security”. In June 2009, shortly after Obama began his presidency, a slim majority said Obama’s toughness was “about right”. This has declined to 36%, while 54% of Americans view the President as “Not tough enough”. This number is the result of a long evolution of judgment on the job Obama is doing for the US on the global stage. And while the American people cannot fire their President, they clearly have lost trust in his effectiveness as a leader.

Even 34% of Democrats say that Barack Obama is not tough enough as a leader.

In fact, and this should be a concern for America’s first black president, but Obama’s highest rating in job performance in the Pew poll is for “handling race relations”.

As Pew’s report makes clear:

“[Obama’s] ratings for handling other issues – including policy toward Israel (37% approve), the situation involving Russia and Ukraine (35%) and the situation in Iraq (35%) – are more negative than positive.”

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