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War-weariness fades; most Americans support ISIS ground war

Terrorists use propaganda because they know it works. ISIS seems to understand this all too well.
Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. (Photo by Reuters)
Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014.
ISIS leaders have made no secret of their hopes for a ground war against U.S. military forces. It's unexpected, but most Americans apparently want the same thing.

American voters support 62 - 30 percent sending U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, with strong support across all party, gender and age groups, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today. [...] A total of 69 percent of American voters are "very confident" or "somewhat confident" that the U.S. and its allies will defeat ISIS. Only 39 percent of voters are concerned that U.S. military action will go "too far" in getting involved in the situation, while 53 percent are more concerned the U.S. military "will not go far enough in stopping ISIS."

The results were surprisingly one-sided. Support for sending U.S. ground troops spans gender, age, and even partisan lines.
This is obviously just one survey, but a CBS News poll released a few weeks ago pointed to very similar results, suggesting this is a pretty accurate reflection of public attitudes.
It wasn't long ago that much of the political establishment described the American mainstream as "war weary" following tragedies in Iraq and Afghanistan. As surprising as it may be, it seems that weariness has faded.
Indeed, as we discussed last month, the shift in the prevailing winds happened fairly quickly. As recently as late 2013, President Obama urged Congress to authorize a military offensive in Syria, but lawmakers balked, insisting Americans simply had no appetite for yet another combat mission in the Middle East. Many Republicans who'd urged the White House to launch attacks suddenly reversed course, even using their opposition to war for fundraising.
A year and a half later, this has largely reversed. Obama has already ordered thousands of airstrikes on ISIS targets, and the president has taken the lead in organizing an international coalition to confront the terrorist group, but the polling suggests most of the country wants even more.
There's room for debate about how and why American attitudes changed, but I continue to believe ISIS propaganda has played a key role -- the group promotes videos with disgusting, violent images, chosen specifically for their shock value. ISIS is confident that the more brutal their actions, the more likely it is countries like the United States will be eager to enter another war.
As for the practical implications of a ground war against ISIS, Kevin Drum recently explained, "[T]he only way to defeat ISIS would be in grisly house-to-house fighting in Sunni strongholds like Mosul. We already know that U.S. troops can't do that effectively, and neither can the predominantly Shia troops controlled by Iraq. It would be a long, grinding, disaster of a war. But apparently the American public hasn't quite internalized that yet. They're becoming more and more enraged about ISIS, and they want to do something. That's a bad combination."
Terrorists use propaganda because they know it works.
Our pals at "All In with Chris Hayes" had a good segment on this last night: