The American people are turning against President Obama’s foreign policy in larger numbers than ever. A Washington Post-ABC poll released this week finds that the president’s approval rating on international affairs has reached an all-time low, hovering at 41%.
The Post notes that President Obama’s approval ratings on individual issues are all at concerning levels but that the lack of support for his policies on foreign affairs is particularly noteworthy. 50% of Americans responded that they disapprove of the president’s handling of international affairs. The numbers changed rapidly from the last poll of its kind in March, when 47% of Americans approved of the president on this brand of issues, while 45% disapproved.
On individual issues, it appears that Americans agree with some ideas proposed by the administration, if not their execution. 77% of respondents agreed with President Obama’s proposal to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and, the newspaper notes, “majorities supported slapping economic sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea and intimidating Ukraine.”
On issues where the actions of the administration are judged and not ideas, however, Americans appear far more ambivalent. As Scott Clement writes for the Post, “simply adopting popular policies (or the limited number that are polled) does not guarantee popularity. Execution matters, too, as was made clear with the takedown of Osama bin Laden, and many of Obama’s major foreign policy ventures have produced less than appealing results.” Only 45% approve of what is actually happening on the ground in Afghanistan right now. 58% of Americans responded to those conducting the poll that they believed the government attempted to cover up pivotal information about the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Only 32% believe the Obama administration was forthcoming with the facts.
As the poll was conducted from May 29 to June 1, issues like the Veterans Affairs agency scandal and the release of five high-level Taliban officials for the freedom of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl did not come into play in answering the questions. The Bergdahl trade in particular may impact replies to how the Obama administration is handling the situation in Afghanistan–where the released Taliban officials will be free to travel after living in Qatar for one year. Those who served with Bergdahl have alleged that he deserted his battalion, placing them all in danger and resulting in the deaths of six in their unit. Similarly, developments from Eastern Ukraine to Nigeria to Syria may impact the perception of the Obama administration in the next few months.