Syrian civil war in photos
August 30th, 2013
08:14 AM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Half oppose military action against Syria

Washington (CNN) - Half of all Americans say they oppose possible U.S. military action against Syria, according to a new national poll.

But the NBC News survey suggests support does increase if any such attack is limited to cruise missile launches.

And nearly eight in ten of those questioned in the survey released Friday morning say President Barack Obama should be required to get Congressional approval before launching any military attack against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The poll, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, indicates 50% of the public says the U.S. should not take military action against Damascus in response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens, with 42% saying military action is appropriate.

But the survey suggests that if any military action is confined to air strikes using cruise missiles, support rises. Fifty percent of a smaller sample asked that question say they support such an attack, with 44% opposing a cruise missile attack meant to destroy military units and infrastructure that have been used to carry out chemical attacks.

The president said on Wednesday there's no doubt the Syrian regime launched chemical weapons attacks against its own people. Assad's government has blamed the August 21 attack on rebels.

As the president weighs a military response, top administration officials Thursday evening briefed member of Congress. More than 100 members of Congress are urging the White House "to consult and receive authorization" before launching any military action.

According to the poll, 79% of the public - including nearly seven-in-ten Democrats and 90% of Republicans - say Obama should be required to receive Congressional approval before taking any military action.

The War Powers Resolution passed by Congress in 1973 requires the president seek consent from Congress before force is used, or within 60 days of the start of hostilities. It also says the president must provide Congress with reports throughout the conflict.

Since 1973, the United States has used military force in Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, Iraq in 1991, Haiti in 1994 and Kosovo in 1999. In all those instances, presidents - both Democrats and Republicans - sidestepped Congress and committed U.S. military forces without obtaining Congressional approval.

Congress did, however, provide President George W. Bush with its approval for the war in Iraq in 2002 and the war in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The poll also indicates that just one in five say launching military action against the Syrian government is in the U.S. national interest, with one-third disagreeing and nearly half of those questioned not sure.

Would a military strike make a difference in Syria, which has been ravaged by a bloody civil war between the government in Damascus and various rebel factions? The answer appears to be no, which just 27% saying a U.S. attack will improve the situation for Syrian civilians. Just over four in ten disagree and three in ten aren't sure.

The NBC News poll was conducted August 28-29, with 700 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report

Filed under: Polls • Syria
soundoff (233 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Let Syria go to dogs–I do not care. No new wars–read my lips. Do not care GOP thugs–these animals want war then blame you to grab the power in 2016. Yes, on Hillary16.

    August 30, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  2. allenwoll

    100% opposition here (2 out of 2) !

    August 30, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    "But the NBC News survey suggests support does increase if any such attack is limited to cruise missile launches."
    I'll never understand why some think why one method of killing is better than another. Never.

    August 30, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  4. Winston Smith

    Go It Alone? Seems Like the rest of the world has enough sense to mind it's own business. Wonder if we'll ever be able to do likewise? For those in a rush to get involved in this fracas, let's just ponder what we'd do if anyone were to interfere with our internal fights. I'd be surprised if we'd put up with the intrusion. Maybe we should take this into consideration.

    August 30, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. Rob

    Do not do anything in Syria – support international efforts through the UN but do not do anything on our own! There is nothing to be gained and much to lose by taking any military action.

    August 30, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. C

    Funny how 90% of Republicans say Congressional approval should be granted for an attack even when PROOF exists. Meanwhile, we full on invaded Iraq and are still there based on ASSUMPTION.

    August 30, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  7. jinx9to88

    Leave it alone. What will happen is we will strike and then we will have to pay to rebuild. We have no MONEY!!!! Do they know how many people 1 million dollars can feed here in the U.S.? These people are crazy!!

    August 30, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  8. What?

    Until I read Gurgyl's post, I didn't realize that Obama was in the GOP. Before you blame all war on the GOP, just remember who brought us Vietnam. I'll even give you a clue, it wasn't the GOP. Both parties have too many ghosts in their closets. Let's try to keep this REAL and hold BOTH parties accountable.

    August 30, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  9. tom l.

    Half oppose and Half don't even know where Syria is.

    August 30, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. Jokesterer

    America is finally growing weary of war. I didn't think that was possible.

    August 30, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Geoz

    Do whatever you want, but don't go to war. It isn't worth our lives. It WOULD be worth our lives if war ever brought Syria to a peaceful prosperous place, but I think we have demonstrated sufficiently in both A and I, that we don't get that done. War just ends up costing billions if not trillions, and violence remains.

    August 30, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. Jokesterer

    Syria is in Canis Major.

    August 30, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Will S

    Let the EU and the Russians sort it out. It is in their sphere of influence.

    August 30, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I am not opposed to military action against Syria for proven use by the Assad government of chemical weapons against his people. I am opposed to this in a unilateral mode using the same resources that firmly established that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Frankly I am surprised that this is even an issue, especially as Iran has threatened to retaliate against our surrogate – Israel – if we retaliate against their surrogate – Syria. Frankly, I am surprised that Bibi is not screaming for reconciliation and multi-party talks as his predecessor, Ariel Sharon, most assuredly would have were he still the PM.

    August 30, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. G. Kubiak

    I find it rather funny that Congress wants to debate and vote on this topic when they are unable to get other topics solved like the budget! The idea of deploying missiles into Syria is nothing more than President Obama trying to save face for drawing a red line. Last time I checked the United States is not the worlds Police Department. Issues like this is the reason for developing the United Nations so let them do their job and determine what should be done in regards to Syria's actions. Let's try focusing on the needs of our own Nation before spending millions in other countries. If Israel or other area allies are attacked and ask us to help then we can help them at that time.

    August 30, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. John

    Who is going to pay for this WAR?

    We are told to save money; cut taxpayers costs and reaptedly told over and over...We have no more money! We have no more money! Personally, I am tired that I have to pay out of my own pocket for other countries mistakes.

    Ok! If we go to war with Syria and we have no money where is the money coming from to pay for it. Will our congressional leaders take some of the money from thier own pockets? How about you Mr. President?

    Listen Americans we have own own problems right here in the United States such as black on white or black on black crime; black panther party thugs, homelessness, education, OBAMAcare, etc...

    Mr. President and Congress why can't you fix what's wrong in America 1st!!!!!!!

    August 30, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. Ed Klasi

    Where is this poll I believe most Americans want no part of this war or going alone where is our morality

    August 30, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  18. ST

    No war please. Leave it to the republicans who are always fond of it. They want to show to people that they have power. If they have power, why not deal with own people first (like healthcare to everyone), and later show it to the rest of the world that they can deal with anything at home and abroad. They are not in power, they will never be. They should let those who are in power decide on their own what is best for the nation and the entire world.

    August 30, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  19. jpmichigan

    Let NATO take care of this problem. We send to much money , give to much American blood to countries that hate us. Any help we give is eventually used against us. It is time for countries to fend for themselves. Obama did literally nothing about Benghazi, IRS, fast and furious to name a few, now he is placed in a position where his ego takes precedence, but he stated a year ago "If chemical weapons are used, Syria has then cross the red line".

    August 30, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. Richard Long

    What do we gain if we attack Syria... Nothing.

    August 30, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. Rick McDaniel

    Just another quagmire, the U.S. needs to stay out of.......period.

    August 30, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  22. Josh King

    Obama's effective foreign policies at work. /s

    August 30, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. Jon

    I don't understand how one liberal news organization can say 50% oppose and 42% support action... when another liberal media organization says 60% oppose and only 9% support action. Either the polls are rigged or their sample size sucks.

    August 30, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  24. Evergreen

    The Preident is even more aware of what is a t stake that any of us. I hope and beleive that when he has considered all options he will consult with Congress. If for no other reason than to blunt some of the criciism that will come regardless of what action he takes.

    August 30, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. Irene

    If they want war, we have prisoners here who should go and fight, their reward, freedom if they return. That was done during WW 2 Then they wonder why the rest of the world laughs at us. We cannot tell the other countries how to run their country. Our military go fight, then get their benefits get cut. What does Syria offer us,, sure oil, no fuel, YET gas jumped up 16 cents. Let the government people elected go fight, they would think different. We have our problems here, TAKE CARE OF THE US and its people.

    August 30, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
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