Friday, 16 March 2012

Americans Oppose Intervention in Syria

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Americans are tired of sending our troops to intervene in the affairs of other nations, according to a new poll released on March 15 by the Pew Research Center.  Syria is in the news a great deal these days. Uprisings against the Baathist regime of President Assad have been serious and growing over the last year.  An estimated 8,000 Syrians have died in this fighting.

Senator McCain has proposed bombing the Syrian military as a way of ending the civil war and ending the brutality of the Assad regime. Sixty-two percent of Americans oppose this idea and 63 percent oppose sending weapons to Syrian opposition forces. Sixty-four percent of Americans disagreed with the idea that we have a responsibility to act in Syria.  When asked if they favored strikes against Syrian air defenses, 77 percent of Americans were opposed. This opposition crosses party lines.

Also in March 2012, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that only 24 percent of Americans support airstrikes or military assistance in Syria. A CNN poll in February 2012 reveals that 73 percent of Americans believe that our nation “Does not have a responsibility” to do something in Syria. 

These polls show the same unhappiness with our long military operations in Afghanistan. The March Pew Poll shows that a strong majority of Americans favor withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan “as soon as possible,” a percentage that has been steadily increasing since September 2008. This dovetails with other polls on our Afghan military operations. 

Gallup/USA Today shows that 50 percent of Americans want to speed up the timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan while only 24 percent of Americans want to stick to the timetable. ABC News/Washington Post polling data reflect the same feelings. Sixty percent of Americans feel that the war in Afghanistan is “Not worth fighting,” which is tied for the highest level of discontent in that poll’s history of the Afghan War. 

In November of last year, a CNN poll showed opposition to our military operations in Afghanistan at an all-time high of 63 percent. A CBS poll the same month showed that 53 percent of Americans felt that we “Should not be involved” in Afghanistan. 

The Pew poll last March also showed that only 16 percent of Americans supported airstrikes in Libya (77 percent were opposed) and that only 23 percent favored giving arms to Libyan rebels while 69 percent of Americans opposed that action. 

A CBS poll in November 2011 shows that 49 percent of Americans opposed intervening in Libya while 37 percent supported our government’s actions in Libya. What is interesting about that poll is that Democrats and Republicans have almost identical responses, with Republicans slightly more opposed to our actions in Libya (50 percent opposed), but a plurality of Democrats, 47 percent, opposed our actions in Libya as well.

Polls also show that support for our military operations in Iraq is very low. CNN reports that 66 percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq while only 31 percent support this war. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of December of last year shows that 60 percent of Americans expect a civil war in Iraq after our troops are withdrawn and about half of Americans believe that there will be terrorist attacks on American soil as a result of our operations in Iraq.  A whopping 67 percent of Americans, according to a CBS poll last November, believe that the war in Iraq was “Not worth it” and a plurality of each partisan group – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — agreed with that statement.

These polls also reveal a frustration and opposition of Americans to Presidents taking military action without the approval of Congress. Our efforts at bringing our values of liberty and the rule of law to regions that have always had strongmen is losing cachet among the American people — all the major polls are pointing in that same direction.

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