U.S. public opposes Syria intervention as Obama presses Congress

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 3, 2013 7:15pm EDT

A protester holds up a sign against U.S. action in Syria as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey, John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, present the administration's case for U.S. military action against Syria to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A protester holds up a sign against U.S. action in Syria as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey, John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, present the administration's case for U.S. military action against Syria to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington September 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has failed so far to convince most Americans that the United States should launch a limited military strike against Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday.

Some 56 percent of those surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria, while only 19 percent supported action, the online poll found. Some 25 percent said they did not know what course of action the United States should take.

The findings are essentially unchanged from last week and indicated that Obama changed few minds on Saturday when he argued that Washington has the obligation to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for what the United States says was a sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of children, near Damascus on August 21.

The poll showed that respondents were more likely to support a strike if they were specifically asked about the chemical-weapons attack. Even then, only 29 percent said the United States should intervene, while 48 percent opposed action. Another 24 percent said they did not know.

Obama said on Saturday he had decided the United States should take military action against Syrian government targets but has asked Congress to approve the action in an acknowledgement that many Americans have little appetite for new military engagements after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The U.S. public's reluctance to get involved in Syria closely mirrors public sentiment in the United Kingdom, where Parliament last week voted down a motion to support military action by the United States' closest ally.

In the United States, 65 percent of those surveyed in a separate tracking poll agreed with a statement that said "the problems of Syria are none of our business." In the United Kingdom, a parallel poll by Ipsos found that 58 percent agreed with that statement.

Similarly, only 29 percent support the Obama administration's decision to arm anti-government rebels in Syria, while 49 percent oppose that move. Another 21 percent said they didn't know whether they agreed or disagreed with that strategy.

The online poll of 1,195 adult Americans was conducted between August 30 and September 3. It has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Karey Van Hall and Philip Barbara)

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Comments (91)
Daniel77 wrote:
Freakin Obama. Stay out of Syria,
Leave your ego and NWO agenda at the door.
Americans do not want another war.
Can we never mind our own business?
And why is the US supporting Al Qaeda?
Why are we training terrorists in Jordan?
This government is going to get a lot of
people killed at some point, abroad and
likely even at home if we keep meddling.

Sep 03, 2013 11:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
chekovmerlin wrote:
Now that the Congress has the decision is THEIR hands, we’ll see if they have the backbone like the House of Commons or are just another lap dog like the Congress of 2003. I fear the latter. They have no backbone when it comes to war but lots of backbone when it comes to America.

Sep 03, 2013 11:35am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:
Obama goes to Congress. Michele Bachmann looks for Syria on map of South America. John McCain brings human head to senate hearing.

Sep 03, 2013 11:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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