KEY POINTS

  • More Americans now support striking Soleimani
  • These numbers have risen since escalation with Iran has slowed
  • Most Americans disapprove of Trump's foreign policy

With controversy swirling around President Donald Trump’s order for a deadly drone strike against an Iranian general this month, recent polling shows that Americans are coming around to seeing the action as justified.

A survey from the Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 41 percent of Americans approved of the strike against Gen. Qassem Soleimani, while 30 percent do not. The remainder did not have strong feelings about the order.

On Jan. 3, Soleimani and members of his staff were targeted by U.S. drones after arriving at an airport in Baghdad. The attack spurred a retaliatory move from Iran, leading to missiles being launched against an Iraqi base where U.S. troops were stationed. There were no casualties though injuries were reported.

At the time, there were major concerns that this flare-up signaled an escalation between the United States and Iran that could lead to war. In the weeks since Iran’s strike, it appears as though both sides have agreed to cool tensions.

While many Americans were skeptical about the strike on Soleimani in the immediate aftermath, now that it does not appear that war with Iran is likely, opinions are shifting. Unsurprisingly, though, this is largely along party lines, as Republicans now overwhelmingly support the strike (80 percent), while just 15 percent of Democrats approve of it.

Also, when it comes to Iran, an increasing number of Americans are worried about the Middle Eastern nation’s nuclear program. Over the past year, the percentage sharing this concern rose 8 percent, to 56 percent.

Notably, these findings are not reflected in approval ratings for Trump’s foreign policy in general. Most Americans – 59 percent – said they don’t approve of how he’s been handling this aspect of his presidency. Similarly, the poll finds Americans aren’t especially hopeful about the future of foreign relations, with nearly half having said that they expect relations with hostile nations to only worsen in the coming year, and 40 percent anticipating new troubles with U.S. allies.

There’s little doubt that Trump’s strike on Soleimani was a major gambit at the time. But between Iran’s refusal to escalate and Americans’ shifting opinions, it looks as though the president has come out on top.

Trump has branded the case a "hoax" and a "witch hunt Trump has branded the case a "hoax" and a "witch hunt" Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB