June 11, 2011
Six in 10 Americans don’t think the U.S. should be involved in Libya, according to a new CBS News poll. It found that only 30 percent of Americans think we’re doing the right thing by intervening militarily in that country. That includes majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents. As a point of comparison, 51 percent of Americans and a majority of Republicans think we’re “doing the right thing” in Afghanistan. The Libya numbers are bad news for the man in the Oval Office.
What does it mean for a president seeking reelection to have launched a wildly unpopular war without congressional approval? That his Republican challengers should run to President Obama’s left on at least some aspects of national security. It might’ve been awkward to do so given that much of Obama’s national security strategy is identical to the one that Republicans praised under George W. Bush. But this affords a surprisingly easy opportunity to win support from an electorate that is tiring of expensive foreign wars: The GOP nominee need not disavow conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan that rank and file conservatives defended for so long. He or she need only rail against the expense, execution, and questionable strategic value of fighting in Libya.