A CBS News Poll (Nov. 13-16, 2009) indicates support for the president's management of the war continues to decline. As recently as October, the president's approval-disapproval numbers were 42 percent and 34 percent. Last month's poll showed public approval had flipped with 43 percent disapproving of his handling of the war and only 38 percent approving of it. The surge could change that, as the Iraq surge changed President Bush's approval numbers.
The problem for the public and for political leaders is that there has never been a war like this one. We are making up the strategy as we go. Unlike our enemies whose only focus is killing Americans, destroying our economy and imposing Sharia law, we battle political correctness and the false notion that we can make terrorists like us by being nice to them. In fact, the only thing terrorists understand is power and resolve. They must be crushed, not accommodated, and not with kindness.
The failure of the Obama brand of diplomacy is on display in Iran. After several overtures to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and lots of speeches stressing diplomacy, Iran has announced plans not to dismantle its nuclear program, but to build 10 more nuclear facilities, ignoring U.N. resolutions and IAEA pleadings.
Democrats have a problem. Following 9/11 they supported the war, but when polls showed public approval declining, they criticized it in hopes of bringing down President Bush's approval numbers. The party's liberal wing is increasingly against the war, but now that President Obama has ordered more troops to Afghanistan than President Bush, the president and his party effectively "own" it. Which is too bad, because this war ought not to "belong" to one party or persuasion. It is America's war to win or lose. Americans of all political stripes should hope and pray the president's strategy works, not for any political benefit he might derive, but for America's sake.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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