Americans still oppose Syria intervention despite Obama’s push for war


In a last ditch effort to gain public support for military strikes against Syria, President Barack Obama will take his case for intervention directly to the American people in a televised address tomorrow evening.

While the White House insists that its confident that Congress will sign off on the strikes, the political reality is that there isn’t much support for involvement in another country’s internal conflict after more than a decade of war in the Middle East. Members of Congress have heard from constituents, many of whom have called or written their representatives to speak against the proposed military strikes.

Public opinion, which is driving the opposition to intervention in Syria, remains a high hurdle for President Obama to clear, according to three polls released on Monday.

CNN finds that Americans overwhelmingly believe that Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against its own people. Despite that, however, 59% said that they don’t want Congress to authorize force against Syria and 55% said that they would oppose intervention even if Congress does approve military strikes. Only 39% support President Obama’s push for war.

While the White House has reserved the option to attack without support from Congress, the CNN poll also found that 71% of Americans oppose military strikes against Syria without congressional approval.

Gallup also released a poll yesterday that offers a glimpse at Americans’ reasons for opposing intervention in Syria, finding that 24% say that the Middle Eastern country’s civil war is none of our business. Nineteen percent (19%) believe that the United States doesn’t need to be involved in another war.

Gallup released a poll last week finding that 51% of Americans oppose military action in Syria, noting that support for military action is the lowest of any intervention the firm has polled in the last 20 years.

And Pew Research released a poll yesterday showing that opposition to intervention is Syria has increased from 48% to 63% in just a week, with 54% saying that President Obama has made clearly the explanation for military force. The poll also found that 75% of Americans agree that air strikes against Syria are “likely to make things in the Middle East worse.”

The danger for President Obama is clear. His second term has already been plagued by scandals and dogged by unpopular policies, such as ObamaCare. The Hill noted yesterday that he is risking his credibility and, perhaps, the rest of his second term on a push for war that may well backfire if Congress doesn’t get behind it.

The White House has a difficult task in convincing Americans that there is a real need to intervene in a civil war where the United States’ interests aren’t really threatened and convince them that these military strikes will be limited.

But the problem is that the White House and administration officials haven’t effectively made that case, as the argument has been that the United States’ credibility is at stake, which most Americans don’t believe is a justifiable excuse for war.

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