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.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

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

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


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