Daniel Henninger makes the latest unpersuasive attempt to spin the public’s aversion to involvement in foreign conflicts:
Some note the current paradox of the public’s low approval for Mr. Obama’s handling of everything from Iraq to Ukraine to Gaza, while the same polls show a reluctance to involve the country in those problems.
But there is no contradiction. The U.S. public’s resistance reflects coldblooded logic: Why get involved if the available evidence makes clear that America’s president won’t stay the course, no matter how worthy the cause?
There is always a gap between public and elite attitudes on these issues, but it is remarkable how determined many interventionists are not to understand the plain meaning of the public’s opposition to involving the U.S. in these conflicts. If the public is tired of hearing incessant demands for “action” and “leadership” overseas and rejects them, it can’t be because most Americans are genuinely sick of being told that it is America’s responsibility to fix other nations’ problems. No, it must be that the president has failed to “rally” them, or that they don’t trust him to “stay the course,” or because they are supposedly embarrassed that they want to keep their country out of new wars.
Never mind that there is no desire to begin U.S. involvement in these conflicts, much less to “stay the course.” The problem that many Americans have with Obama isn’t that he won’t “stay the course,” but that they have seen him stumble and back into involvement in crises and conflicts that he could have stayed out of. Another reason that Americans aren’t eager to “stay the course” in unnecessary conflicts is that they know that hawks want the U.S. to stay in these places indefinitely, so that once U.S. involvement begins in a certain place there is a chance that it may never end.