August 15th, 2012
12:06 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Syria situation concerns Americans, who are split on U.S. action

(CNN) – The increasingly bloody civil war in Syria concerns Americans, a CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday showed, though the prospect of sending military assistance from the U.S. and other countries or using air power to assist rebels has Americans divided.

The poll showed 29% of Americans saying they're very concerned, and 43% saying they're somewhat concerned, about the situation in Syria. Twenty-six percent said the situation in Syria did not concern them.

On Wednesday, 103 people were killed across Syria, according to the Local Coordination Committee, a Syrian based opposition activist network. The latest violence comes after 16 months of bloodshed that began in March 2011, when a fierce government crackdown against protesters morphed into a nationwide uprising against the regime.

The Syrian crisis has claimed roughly 17,000 lives since it erupted last year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month. Opposition activists have put the toll at more than 20,000.

In Wednesday's poll, Americans were largely split on whether or not the U.S. should partner with other countries to send military assistance to Syrian rebels. Forty-six percent favored the U.S. and other countries using air power to establish safe zones in Syria, compared to 49% who opposed taking that measure.

Last week, President Barack Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser said that Obama was keeping all options on the table to help the Syrian opposition in its battle to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including the possibility of implementing a no-fly zone.

"I don't recall the president ever saying that anything was off the table," John Brennan, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

Obama has signed a covert directive authorizing U.S. support for Syrian rebels battling al-Assad's forces, U.S. officials said two weeks ago. The secret order, referred to as an intelligence "finding," allows for clandestine support by the CIA and other agencies.

The administration has come under fire from some members of Congress for taking what they say is a "hands-off approach" towards Syria.

Sixty-four percent of Americans said they opposed sending U.S. and other countries' troops into Syria to establish safe zones for rebels. Thirty-two supported sending ground troops into the country.

Arming the Syrian opposition, a move the Obama administration has resisted in part because U.S. officials don't know enough about the rebels, also splits Americans. Forty-eight percent said in Wednesday's poll they favored sending weapons and other supplies to Syrian opposition forces, while 47% were opposed to taking that step.

In the larger scheme of U.S. priorities, Americans are divided on where to place removing al-Assad's regime. Nineteen percent said taking the Syrian government from power should be a "very important" goal for the U.S., compared to 46% who said it should be a "somewhat important" goal and 33% said removing al-Assad's regime was "not important."

The CNN/ORC poll was conducted by telephone between August 7-8 from 1,010 adults. The sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN's Pam Benson contributed to this report


Filed under: Polls • Syria
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Abigail

    We wouldn't have a country today if it weren't for France helping our ancestors.

    August 15, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. IF YOU SIGNED GROVER'S PLEDGE, YOU ARE A TRAITOR TO THE U.S.

    The neo-cons are ready to go into another war head first. They do not even know all of the forces fghting in Syria. However, a priority should be to make sure their chemical weapons stockpile is secure. Assad will eventually fall. He's killed moreof his own people than his father did when he assumed power. Let's see how this plays out. Eventually Russia and China are going to have to call for Assad to step down.

    August 15, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Republicans - "The Not Intended to Be Factually Accurate" Party

    I can`t envision Romney, Ryan, McCain, Palin, Lindsey Graham, Limbaugh, Colter, Beck, Hannity, O`Reily, Murdoch, McConnel, Boehner, Cantor or any of them having navigated America through the highly efficient leadership from Obama that removed Moammar Kaddafhi from power with NO LOSSs of American life AND no HUGE EXPENDITURE from the American Treasury.

    Whether it is the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, etc. I trust the Obama/ Biden foreign policy team to best manage this. The RYAN/ROMNEY Throwback Team IS NOT up to the task.

    August 15, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    Action was taken in Libya. What is the geopolitical difference between this and Libya? Oil?

    August 15, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. cali girl

    The PM himself and his family on fled the country a few days ago. The regime is falling apart but are going to hang on to the end. I am hoping sooner than later it will all be over.

    August 15, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Jon

    Airpower ... send in the help ... man power on the ground ... they need to be on the ground here in the USA ... since CNN didnt ask me, I will tell them

    August 15, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. judy

    the president is handeling this correctly in spit of the repo retoric. Americans are tired of war and we need a clear understanding before we send our young people. Mitt and the gang don't care war is good business for them look how much they made on the last war. Nice if your own kids don't have to go.

    August 15, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Nan

    All I have to say is if we are going to war in the future, let's first have a plan to fund it unlike the last two that we will be digging out from for years to come. The cost is not just about the actual war itself but the aftermath of caring for our wounded soldiers as well. Bless their hearts for what they do. I agree, we don't need leaders who just jump to war as the only answer.

    August 15, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. truth hurts

    arabs killing other arabs is no concern of ours unless it affects our strategic interests. obama and the lefties want to jump into all these conflicts for humanitarian reasons to try and save the world. i don't want my kid or your kid dying to save people that cheer when we get attacked by al quada. let the other arab nations ante up their military and money to stop it if they don't like it. funny how you never see that happening. so if they don't care why should we?

    August 15, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. RealityBites

    Of course CNN/ORC did not ask if the US should set up a no fly zone to stop the massacres by Syrian jets?.
    Once again proving that the CNN/ORC poll only conducts polling groups to get Obama friendly results.
    Everyone knows...

    August 15, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. cali girl

    Truth, I don't know why you are referring to lefties, the only jumping done by President Obama was swift and decisive measure to take out Osama and pointed out in an earlier post Mommar. We did that without the war issue.
    However, the ones that JUMPED to war were Cheney and Bush, for unknown weapons of mass destruction that never materialized and brought 2 wars unfunded and the cost of many American lives.
    I do agree with you that we should not send my child or your child to another place for another non issue. That is why President Obama is not in Syria with a war.

    August 15, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. Malory Archer

    truth hurts

    arabs killing other arabs is no concern of ours unless it affects our strategic interests. obama and the lefties want to jump into all these conflicts for humanitarian reasons to try and save the world. – It isn't Obama and the dems who are chomping at the bit to go into Syria, lies hurt – it's you're beloved mittens and the wrecking crew who want to start four more wars!

    i don't want my kid or your kid dying to save people that cheer when we get attacked by al quada. – Then you better not vote for mittens and the wrecking crew!

    let the other arab nations ante up their military and money to stop it if they don't like it. – I'm with ya there. In fact, I'd go even further – I'd pull all of our troops off the Saudi Peninsula and the entire Arabian Gulf region!

    August 15, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    Obama sent military to Libya because it was the largest OIL RESERVE in Africa.
    Syria not so much so we don't care.
    And Obama got the Peace Prize.
    Mr.President – please be the liberal we thought you were.

    August 15, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Malory Archer

    RealityBites

    Of course CNN/ORC did not ask if the US should set up a no fly zone to stop the massacres by Syrian jets?.
    Once again proving that the CNN/ORC poll only conducts polling groups to get Obama friendly results.
    Everyone knows...

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I'd vote no for the no-fly zones, as well as for any other kind of aid that isn't mutually agreed to and matched doller for dollar by our allies. How about you?

    August 15, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. IF YOU SIGNED GROVER'S PLEDGE, YOU ARE A TRAITOR TO THE U.S.

    Action was taken in Libya.
    -----------------------–
    Yes, action was taken because we knew who the rebels were. We can not honestly confirm that the Syrian rebels are in fact Syrians first of all or if they're foreign fighters. I'm almost certain that their is an insurgency in Syria. American military intervention in Syria will cause a ripple effect which will cause Hezbollah to attack Israel which will lead Israel to striking Iran.

    August 15, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. The REAL TRUTH...

    @truth hurts – arabs killing other arabs is no concern of ours unless it affects our strategic interests. obama and the lefties want to jump into all these conflicts for humanitarian reasons to try and save the world.
    ------------------------------------
    LOL – Really ??? I guess a couple of unfunded [illegal] wars – that the aforementioned President Obama was forced to put on his administrations books, to the tune of some $3 TRILLION+ – for OIL makes it OK then. Or was that under the guise of bringing "democracy" to a country where Dad failed to do the jsust right the first time. Or maybe it was simple pandering to the military-industrila complex. Nah.. couldn't be.. Not like they made any profit from it...

    August 15, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |