First things first

60 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. is winning the war on terror, according to a new Rasmussen survey. Only 15 percent think the terrorists are winning. This represents the highest level of confidence in the war on terror that Rasmussen has ever found. By contrast, at the beginning of 2007, only 33 percent thought we were winning, while 36 percent thought the terrorists were.

Terrorist attacks against the U.S. haven’t decreased since January 2007; there weren’t any then and there aren’t any now. And we haven’t captured Osama bin Laden since January 2007 either. The change over the past two years has occurred in Iraq. Thus, Americans appear to perceive a connection between Iraq and the war on terror.

The Rasmussen results tend to confirm the first half of my pet theory — that the country is not unhappy with our foreign and national security policies. Some apparently wish that we were better liked abroad, but most of them probably assume that we will be, now that we have elected “The One.”

The second half of my pet theory is that, because there isn’t much dissatisfaction with our foreign and defense policies, Barack Obama will focus on the economy and, in the short term, not dramatically change our foreign and national security policies. This approach — focusing on the area about which Americans are most concerned — would be only natural.

Moreover, Obama’s opportunity to radically change our domestic and economic policies will probably never be better. He now has the momentum of his election, coupled with huge majorities in both houses of Congress. He is not likely to “pass this way” again.

It would therefore be foolish to open a second “front” — a battle over foreign and defense policy — at a time when confidence in the war on terror has hit at a high water mark. If Obama were to do this, and if events then conspired to reduce confidence in efforts against terrorism, Obama wouldl be the loser. And a comeback by the terrorists in Iraq might reduce such confidence whether or not it was the result of our withdrawal.

Obama understands, I assume, that there will be time enough gradually to erode our sovereignty and thereby make us better “citizens of the world” as his presidency wears on. He also likely understands that it will be easier for him to sell a less nationalistic approach to dealing with the world once our economy has improved, as it almost certainly will, thanks to the business cycle.

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