A new poll shows Americans are more likely than not to support President Donald Trump’s decision to order a drone strike that killed an Iranian general, even amid widespread skepticism about his foreign policy overall, The Associated Press reported.
The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was taken about two weeks after the Jan. 3 strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. It found that 41% of Americans approved of the action while 30% disapproved of it. The rest didn’t express an opinion either way.
Soleimani was killed shortly after arriving at the Baghdad airport. Iran responded five days later by firing a barrage of missiles at bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed, causing injuries but no deaths. The exchange sparked fears of a new Middle East war, but both sides then stood down.
That lack of escalation could explain some of the support for the strike, said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute.
“There was a fear that this could lead to an all-out war between the U.S. and Iran and, because it didn’t, the assessment of whether it was good or bad shifts a bit,” said Parsi, whose “trans-partisan” think tank advocates for diplomacy and military restraint in the Middle East.
The poll results are mixed for Trump, with support for killing the general not translating into a corresponding increase in approval of his handling of foreign affairs.
The poll showed 59% disapproved of the Republican president’s handing of foreign policy, similar to the percentage who said that in October 2019 and well above the 43% who disapproved of his job handling the economy.
Trump’s approval rating for foreign policy is similar to views on how he’s handling his job as president overall, AP writes.
To a certain extent, public opinion on the killing of Soleimani, who U.S. officials say led campaigns that have killed hundreds of American troops and was planning further attacks, tracked with attitudes toward the President overall. Republican support for the decision is overwhelming, with 80% approving and just 5% disapproving of the decision. Among Democrats, 15% approve and 53% disapprove.