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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Politics of the Syria Strike: Meh!



Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight:
Most foreign policy entanglements do not result in a “rally around the flag” event — when a president’s popularity jumps because Americans rally behind their commander-in-chief. That’s according to a 2001 study by William Baker of the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences and John Oneal of the University of Alabama. Their study found that only 39 percent of U.S. military interventions1 from 1933 to 1993 resulted in a rise in the president’s approval rating. Still, 39 percent is a sizable minority of the time. So, will President Trump’s order to launch missiles at a Syrian airfield be one of them?
After former President Barack Obama laid out a four-point plan to go after the Islamic State group in 2014, I described five characteristics of foreign policy interventions that tend to increase the chances of a rally-around-the-flag effect. The list, compiled from political science papers, isn’t comprehensive, but it provides a good blueprint: The more points an intervention hits, the more likely the president’s approval rating will increase. Let’s take them one at a time.
1. Americans tend to react with greater enthusiasm when there is bipartisan support for an intervention.
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2. Americans tend to give the president a boost when he’s acting against a major power.
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3. Americans seem to respond more positively when the U.N. Security Council gives its approval to a foreign endeavor.
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4. Americans are more likely to warm toward the president when there are revisionist goals at stake.
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5. Americans are more likely to rally behind a president at the beginning of his presidency.
Huffington Post:
 Half of Americans support President Donald Trump’s missile strikes against Syria in retaliation for the Syrian government’s reported use of chemicals weapons on its citizens, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey. The poll also found some Americans concerned about Trump’s preparation for the attack and his failure to seek congressional authorization.

Fifty-one percent of Americans say they support Trump’s decision to order strikes, with 32 percent opposed, and 17 percent uncertain.

Four in 10 view the strikes as an appropriate response, with 25 percent considering them too aggressive, and 10 percent not aggressive enough.

Still, the poll found pessimistic views of the attack’s efficacy. Just one-third of the public thinks the strikes will be even somewhat likely to deter the use of chemical weapons, with 46 percent believing they’re somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to have any such effect.

There was little support for further U.S. response. Only 20 percent of Americans want Trump to take additional military action, while 36 percent say he should not. A plurality, 45 percent, was unsure.
CBS:
Fifty-seven percent of Americans approve of the airstrike against Syrian military targets – calling immoral the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons that led to the strike - but most are leery of any military involvement beyond airstrikes, a CBS News poll shows.
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Few Americans are willing to see the U.S. get involved in Syria beyond the use of airstrikes. Only 18 percent would want ground troops. Half of Republicans would limit involvement to either airstrikes or diplomacy, and Democrats largely would focus on diplomatic efforts.
Seven-in-ten Americans think Mr. Trump needs to get authorization from Congress before any further action against Syria; more than half of Republicans agree.

Americans support last week’s U.S. strike in part because most say the use of chemical weapons is immoral. There’s more division on whether it constitutes a direct threat to the U.S.
Back in 2013, most Republicans opposed the idea of airstrikes against Syria by President Obama, and half of Democrats were opposed then, as well.
Since the strike. Mr. Trump’s overall job approval rating has seen an increase to 43 percent. Slightly fewer now disapprove than did before. Forty-nine percent now disapprove of his performance.