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. marineace

    I am 100% opposed to involvement in Syria. My kid's already been in Afghanistan. Obama should send his kids if he is so sure of our intelligence reports. No way will it just be a short strike. The new variable in this civil war is that Putin is involved. Call the White House, call your Senators and your Representatives and tell them "NO WAY". I did that this morning and so should you before more of our brave young men and women are forced to lose their lives and limbs for this folly.

    August 30, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. rickenpacker89

    Since when is 700 people a survey?

    August 30, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Arbitus

    We are outraged over the use of an indiscriminate weapon against one population, so we respond by deploying a different indiscriminate weapon against another population. A stupid response. No one is going to win here, ever, except for the military industrial complex, who owns Washington DC, and is fully aware that no matter how the matter of going to war is debated, that their side will win and America will lose.

    August 30, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Bill Mitchell

    Wow, Obama is doing well. Just a week ago Ipsos told us only 9% supported the attacking Syria. Nice try CNN.

    August 30, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. Daryl Logan

    Half? What kind of fake poll is this? Most polls show that only 9% of Americans want anything to do with Syria. Our government is aiding the enemy, Al Qiada. This is no secret. There is plenty of evidence to support that the "rebels" (aka terrorists) were responsible for the chemical attacks. Mainstream media isn't even trusted by most americans. This makes me sick that you ignore the other side of this war. What about the email that was hacked back in January that even discussed this whole situation being played out? Where's CNN's coverage of that? Yahoo briefly posted about it before it being torn from their website.

    August 30, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Alex Povolotski

    Syria and Iran is not like Iraq, is not like Afghanistan. If Hezbollah is involved, the US intervention will only bring civilian casualties and the increase in terror activities.

    August 30, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Yup! Boys! Let's go get 'em! Of course the "unintended consequences" might be a little hard to swallow over the next 2-3 years, with the numbers of "other casualties" that will be racked up outside of Syria's borders. Those that will inevitably occur in Israel, U.S. Embassies around the world, and civilians targeted by extremists wanting revenge. But no matter! Go ahead on it Boys! Go get 'em!!!!

    August 30, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. Against More US Military Dispatched

    Enough already! The world hates our country and we're always the first ones out there putting our military on the front lines to help them!?!? We always see people in several different countries on television burning our flag and talking trash about the United States. Let them kill themselves! American families need our military taking care of our country here at home. We don't have anymore money to fund another war! Read my lips ... NO MORE WAR INTERVENTION!

    August 30, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. Fair is Fair

    Obama made a grave error publicly defining a "red line". So called "red lines" should be kept to himself, his closest advisors, and senior military officials. Nope, he really should not have opened his mouth on this in public. So he's in a damned if you do / damned if you don't situation of his own making. Strike, and you not only strike alone, but also risk setting off a wider regional conflict. Don't strike, and you project weakness and make America lose credibility internationally. You really stepped in it this time, Mr. President.

    August 30, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. bassman

    In Gov. Palin's latest Facebook post she asked, "Mr. President, please give America justification before you spend blood and treasure to intervene." If Pres. Obama had listened to her and had been making the case for intervention, maybe we would have seen a different vote in Britain's Parliament.

    August 30, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Babyboomer

    We need to stay out of this. Not a winnable situation. I hope the President and Congress take a cue from the UK on this one.

    August 30, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. jcorl66

    The World has gone bad, the planners behind the scene know exactly what they want, we are blinded by smoking mirrors, when there is No End Game for Syria, there is an End Game – We are dragged into this by our own rhetoric, and indirectly US and Iran will be on the chess board, are we seen the beginning of WW III? Wonder who are really the ones benefiting from this insanity, who are the ones that really want the US involved in this conflict with the potential of full scale war in the middle east? LETS RETRO ENGINEER THIS – Oil prices to the roof – kiss good bye our recent slow economic recovery – The world is about to be re-started! End Game!

    August 30, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. kirk

    I thought he was supposed to give a press conference telling us why we need to get involved. I can't imagine any scenario where our presence is needed .this is getting old

    August 30, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. Ralph

    WE need to stay out of everyone else's business. We spend all our money, men and women's lives and all we get out of it is hate, pointed at us for trying to help. NO more defending. unless it comes right to our own shores. Even the counties we defend don't back us up so what's the point

    August 30, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Fair is Fair


    We need to stay out of this. Not a winnable situation. I hope the President and Congress take a cue from the UK on this one.
    We really should stay out. But by saying we would act if such-an-such event occurs, seeing the event occur, and then doing nothing about it is almost a defacto sanctioning of the event in the first place. Why would Assad hesitate to do it again? What a mess.

    August 30, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. jack

    I cant believe u put this pool on the news... CNN is shameless. this is fake propaganda.

    August 30, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Data Driven

    Oh who cares about this stuff. What's going on with Chris Christie today?

    August 30, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Say it aint so

    We should have NEVER gotten involved in the Middle East in the first place. All we have managed to do is get sucked in to a region that will never be stable, become democracies (as defined by US) or be our friends. Had we become energy independent during the Carter administration, this region would be of no interest to us. We only have ourselves to blame.

    NO MORE WAR!!!

    August 30, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. wendel

    damned if ya do damned if ya don't. Mc Caine hollering to do something Bohner hollering not to do anything. And all the repo nut jobs hollering about everything. And waiting to disagree on what ever dicission the president makes.

    August 30, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. jboh

    The USA should quit cleaning up the messes create by European colonialism 100 yrs ago. Let them clean up their own messes. They drew the current borders to meet European interests, w/o any concern about local peoples. After a century of fermenting, the lid is blowing off. I also want to comment on all the Obama haters posting today about we need our do nothing congress to be involved who have been screaming for involvement for a year. Remember their blather about bombing Iran?

    August 30, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. txan

    No. No way. No how. No time. Never.

    This country is disgusting. Stay out of other people's affairs. We are not the war police.

    August 30, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Bhoot

    I am not wise enough to understand that when a missile is dropped how will it pick and choose civilan Vs military personnel. Won't this type of attack may make job easier for Assad? Poor civilians..they just have to wait for how they would die, chemical weapon, cruise missile, a bullet or if that is not enough then hunger is waiting anyway.

    August 30, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  23. Dennis

    So, has Obama finally learned the lesson that seeking 'consensus' from everyone doesnt work and his weak stance foreign policy CAUSES these situations since NO ONE believes he has a backbone?

    Its funny how the lessons GWB demonstrated were lost on him and the rest of his ilk. When GWB told Syria to leave Lebanon (after the US had invaded Iraq), they left after almost 2 decades of interference, than Libya came to the table and gave up chemical and nuke weapons and paid the victims of the Lockerbie bombing, NK was contained and pretty much the rest of the world understood that with GWB in office these things would not be tolerated. Now we have a 'nobel prize for hypocracy' president in office and Syria, Egypt and the rest of the middle east are in turmoil, and no one could care less about his 'red lines'.

    August 30, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  24. Minne Mouse

    I think our country needs to flat 100% stay out. Don't we have enough issues in our own country to be concerned about and financially especially. There's needs to be other ways to bring peace into our country which also includes other countries by means of peaceful negotiations in order to not start a war. It's a 100% bad solution to the problem. It's not our problem. The men and women in our branches of military, need to be right here in America serving our own country.

    It's not worth it to risks again the lives our dedicated "American Military Families". These families will once again have to leave behind the spouses, children, family members ect. To risk everyone's lives for what? To end up with lost lives, see more grieving families and massive escalating debt that is going to cost everyone. A war will cost everyone, in many different ways.

    It's one thing to control our own country but we have no control over any other country. At the state of our own country, we can't even control it.

    Hasn't this country seen enough lives lost and grief just from all of the continuous gun violence and now your thinking about moving our people off to another country for a war, which we should not even have any involvement with. We can't even help our own country with all of the gun violence ect... to bring peace into our own country!

    August 30, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  25. LaVon Kay Hummel

    To me it is clear, if chemical weapons are used it is a war crime. After seeing children dead in their parents arms is not enough to move to action by all the world, what will be. Nothing, I have wondered why has not any one step up to the Monster President of Syria? Americans to want to bomb the hell out of any county that might drive up there gas price. Pity on a nation that dooms itself to becoming to live in a bubble. The President of the United state is the arm of all America. To renege on a warning to the Assad regime empowers evil, and weakens the US at the knees. If support for this is needed I guess Americans should know if this spills over to border country of Syria then we should learn to say WW3. If mass murder of children by slaughter, and illegal chemicals maybe to realize we will be horribly affected if the Assad he free to kill at will. So 70 percent of American say no, Then know you have joined the Soviet Union, China. Germany, and no pants France. This is a direct slap to the UN. It reinforces my thoughts that Americans won't rally unless it affects their belly. Ashamed.

    August 30, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
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