POLITICS: White House

Conundrum: Americans are unhappy with Obama's handling of foreign crises, but don't want the U.S. involved

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Barack Obama,Russia,Polls,Foreign Policy,Ukraine,Becket Adams

U.S. voters are deeply unhappy with the Obama administration for its seemingly clueless and underwhelming response to growing crises overseas, but this anger does not necessarily mean Americans want the U.S. to become more involved in the world's problems, according to a new Politico survey.

The survey, which was conducted from July 3-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points, examines the foreign policy views of likely voters in important midterm battleground states.

And one thing seems apparent: Americans really don't want the U.S. to get more involved in international crises.

Only 17 percent of survey respondents say the U.S. should do more to curb Russia's meddling in Ukraine, while a much larger percentage, 34 percent, said the U.S. should avoid getting involved. The survey was conducted before a surface-to-air missile downed a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine last week.

Further, only 23 percent of the survey's respondents oppose the idea of the U.S. withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan. Forty-four percent of likely voters in the Politico survey also say they do not want to see the U.S. get more involved in the growing crisis in Iraq, while only 19 percent of respondents say the U.S. should take a more active role in the situation.

Twenty-three percent of 834 voters polled by Politico say they are satisfied with the way the U.S. is handling the civil war in Iraq.

Most respondents did agree, however, that the U.S. should involve itself with issues overseas but that it should be limited “to direct threats to our national security.”

More than half of the survey's respondents, 51 percent, say the problems in Iraq concerns U.S. national security either “a little” or “not at all.” A smaller group, 42 percent, say that the Iraq crisis affects the U.S. “a lot.”

And the trend continues much: Forty-two percent prefer less U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war, while only 15 percent prefer that the U.S. take a more active role.

Lastly, perhaps as a sign for things to come later during the November midterm elections, more voters say they trust Republicans to Democrats with foreign policy issues, 39 percent to 32 percent.

“The picture that emerges from the survey is consistent across issues of foreign policy and national security: Americans are profoundly wary of getting entangled overseas and seem to be skeptical of the value of projecting U.S. power on foreign conflicts,” Politico reported.

“Republicans are modestly more hawkish than Democratic and independent voters, but a majority of self-identified GOP voters support pulling out of Afghanistan and maintaining or reducing involvement in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine,” the report added.

Elsewhere, in a separate NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Obama's foreign policy approval rating has plummeted. A mere 37 percent of likely voters survey in this poll say they approve of the White House's handling of foreign policy issues, while a much larger 57 percent disapprove. Both figures represent all-time extremes in this category for Obama.

This leaves the White House in an interesting position: U.S. voters do not want America to become more involved in the world's problems, but they're also apparently unhappy with the Obama administration's seeming lack of interest in these crises.

So what does the White House do to win back approval on foreign policy that doesn't involve more U.S. involvement?

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