Only 1 in 5 Americans believes that failing to respond to chemical- weapons attacks in Syria would embolden other rogue governments, rejecting the heart of a weeks-long White House campaign for U.S. military strikes, an Associated Press poll concluded Monday.
The poll of 1,007 adults nationwide found that most Americans oppose even a limited attack on Syria — likely with cruise missiles — despite Obama administration warnings that inaction would risk national security and ignore a gruesome humanitarian crisis. And a slim majority — 53 percent — fear that a strike would lead to a long-term U.S. military commitment in Syria.
The survey reflects a U.S. public that is tired of Mideast wars after a dozen years of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. It undercuts political support President Barack Obama is hoping to garner as he seeks congressional authorization this week to strike the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
U.S. officials have cited a high confidence in intelligence that indicates Assad’s government launched the Aug. 21 attacks that they say killed more than 1,400 Syrians. Obama last year warned Assad that using chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war would amount to a “red line” that, if crossed, would bring a swift U.S. response.
Support in Congress is lukewarm at best, and many lawmakers have questioned whether the strikes would create more of a problem for the U.S. than they would help the nearly three year effort to overthrow Assad.
The poll indicated that 53 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents and 73 percent of Republicans believe Congress should vote against the plan to strike Syria.