VOX IGNORAMUS: Mike Murphy provides a damning critique of the value of public opinion in foreign policymaking:
MUCH OF THE RECENT DEBATE over the Bush administration’s Iraq policy has centered on two foolish ideas. The first is that the goal of American foreign policy should be to make certain the United States is “liked” by as many other countries as possible, particularly at that great high school of the world, the United Nations. The second is that policymakers should look to public opinion in the United States and abroad as the compass by which to make wise decisions on vital matters of war and peace.
This theory of international relations as a dinner party where national interests should be subordinated to good manners is disturbingly ubiquitous among the chattering class. It is also very dangerous in our age of state-sponsored mass terror. Public opinion, while always sanctified when we talk about our great democracy, is often dangerously naive and ill-informed. History shows us that public opinion in times of grave national crisis often puts great pressure on leaders to do exactly the wrong thing.
He proceeds to illucidate throughout the piece. (Hat tip to Reductio ad Absurdum)