Pew: Majority of Americans don't support intervention in Syria

Protests continued in Damascus this week. Protests continued in Damascus this week. Bassem Tellawi/AP

Despite some defense hawks' calls for military intervention in Syria, a new national survey shows a majority of Americans are opposed to bombing President Bashar al-Assad’s forces or arming the Syrian rebels in their fight against him.

Sixty-two percent of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press opposed bombing the Syrian military, and 63 percent were against sending weapons to groups fighting Assad. A similar number, 64 percent, said the U.S. does not have a responsibility to act in Syria.

This opinion stretched across party lines. According to Pew, majorities of both Republicans and Democrats within the pool of 1,503 adults surveyed March 7-11 agreed the U.S. does not have a responsibility to get involved, and rejected the idea of military intervention or providing arms to the opposition.

As seen last year in Libya, public opinion does not necessarily preclude action. Before the U.S. and its allies launched air strikes to protect Libyans in their fight against strongman Muammar el-Qaddafi, 69 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew last March opposed arming the rebels. And a whopping 77 percent opposed bombing Libyan air defenses. Even after the Libyans seized Tripoli and Qaddafi went into hiding, fewer than half—44 percent—surveyed in September said that launching air strikes was the right decision.  

The numbers are similar to a recent unscientific survey of National Journal's pool of national-security and foreign-policy experts, in which 70 percent did not support U.S. military intervention in Syria.  

In Congress, however, the debate continues. Armed Services ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., was the first senator to call for U.S.-led air strikes against Assad’s ground forces and to establish humanitarian corridors to funnel aid and weapons to the rebels. McCain was backed by Sens. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

But other Republican hawks appear less sure. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said this week that she doesn’t support military intervention just yet. Arming the opposition is something “we should look at doing,” Ayotte said, but added that there could be other partners, like the Turks, who might be in a better position to do this than Washington.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.