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November 27, 2013 4:40 PM War Weary

By Ed Kilgore

Today Greg Sargent reports the initial public opinion research on the “first step” agreement with Iran:

In a new Reuters poll, Americans back the proposed Iranian nuclear deal by 2-to-1 margin. This is supported by the recent Post/ABC poll that finds 64 percent of Americans support easing sanctions in exchange for a temporary delay of Iran’s nuclear program.

But Greg also notes that these surveys indicate strong antipathy towards Iran and continued positive feelings towards Israel, whose prime minister is denouncing the agreement in an unusually uninhibited fashion, even for him. The explanation is simple, per this analysis from Reuters:

Even if the Iran deal fails, 49 percent want the United States to then increase sanctions and 31 percent think it should launch further diplomacy. But only 20 percent want U.S. military force to be used against Iran.
The survey’s results suggest that a U.S. public weary of war could help bolster Obama’s push to keep Congress from approving new sanctions that would complicate the next round of negotiations for a final agreement with Iran.
“This absolutely speaks to war fatigue, where the American appetite for intervention - anywhere - is extremely low,” Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said. “It could provide some support with Congress for the arguments being made by the administration.”

I don’t why it’s taking elite opinion-leaders, especially on the Right, so long to figure this out: whatever their merits or demerits, the War on Terror engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq have sapped American support for military interventions, especially in the Middle East. You’d think the neocon voices who argued a quick military victory in Iraq would make the world safe for U.S. interventions elsewhere would be the first to admit that failure might have the opposite effect, but that does not seem to be the case.

An earlier generation of conservative hawks talked about a “Vietnam Syndrome” negatively affecting Americans’ healthy blood lust, and celebrated the absurd invasion of Grenada as an antidote. I wouldn’t be surprised at some point to see their heirs trying to find some splendid little war to wage to rekindle public support for defense spending and unilateralism.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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