Staying out: Barack Obama's foreign policy problems

July 24, 2014, 4:40 PM GMT+0

Most Americans don't blame Barack Obama for crises in Ukraine, Syria, or Israel – but the President still gets negative ratings for his handling of each one

Ukraine, Syria, Israel. American President Barack Obama gets negative ratings from Americans on his handling of all three crises, even though most respondents in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll don’t hold the President responsible for what is taking place. Neither do they want the United States to seek out any involvement in the conflicts.

Barely over a third believe the United States has a responsibility to do something about the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the highest percentage for the three crises. Less than a quarter say that about Ukraine, and even fewer want the U.S. to take a stand in Syria.

Republicans are the most hawkish when it comes to U.S. involvement in the Israel-Palestinian fight, though they are divided about this. 47% of Republicans say the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the fighting there, but 44% disagree. On Syria and on Ukraine, there are almost no partisan differences.

The lack of interest in getting the U.S. involved in these crises doesn’t mean that Americans don’t take a position on these conflicts. While in each case a plurality say they U.S. should support neither side, Israel, the Ukrainian government, and the Syrian rebels get more support than the Pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels, the Palestinians and the Syrian government.

Republicans are even stronger than the public overall in their support for Israel – 60% of Republicans say the United States should support Israel, and only 3% of Republicans favor the Palestinians. They are also more likely to support the Ukrainian government over the rebels (46% to 0%)

The belief that these battles are not the U.S.’s responsibility is not only because Americans don’t want direct involvement. They also don’t think that the U.S. President, Barack Obama bears even half the responsibility for causing them. Although several Republicans have asserted that lack of action by President Obama has exacerbated the problems in places like Ukraine, most Americans (and even most Republicans) disagree.

About a third of Republicans, however, agree with the members of their party who have put the onus on the President for what has taken place in Ukraine.

Despite what appears to be an overwhelming American preference for non-involvement in these three conflicts, as well as general agreement that the President bares little of no responsibility for what is taking place there, Barack Obama receives negative assessments for his handling of each of these crises. And the assessments don’t vary crisis to crisis. Less than a third of Americans approve of how he is handling each; in each case, more disapprove.

The pattern is the same when it comes to the President’s rating on handling foreign policy overall. 37% approve, while nearly half, 48%, disapprove. His ratings on the war in Afghanistan are also similar.

The President’s overall ratings have changed little in the last few months, though they have recovered from the lows he received last fall, during the problematic health care exchange rollout. This week, 52% disapprove of his overall performance; 45% approve. His approve ratings is up four points from what it was two weeks ago.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.