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. Anonymous

    I am VETERAN who supports Obama. If he send troops into that civil war I am done with him, he said HE WOULD SEND TROOPS TO WAR for stuff like this. This is no different than IRAQ!

    August 30, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. What's in that tea anyway?

    Fair said,
    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.

    Grave error indeed....nothing like ignoring the blunders of lil Dubyah huh? That's right...only Obama makes grave errors publically. Everytime I think you are going to use your much rumored intelligence, you say something completely stupid like this....just to disparage the president. Remember the IRS scandal? People were saying "how is it Obama learned of this by watching TV?" The point was that he knew nothing about it and didn't instruct anybody to chase around the Tea Troll losers for targeting. But would anyone have believed him? Just like if he would have kept the "red line" to himself "None of the Brain dead Tea fools would believe him" and supposed people in your party with brains like you, apparently can't see the obvious either....go lay down Fair and attempt to come back with a smart post.

    August 30, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. LaVon Kay Hummel

    The UK has left me befuddled. At least they took a vote and quickly came to an answer. Please don't ask our loser congress to take a vote, They would most likely take a break to nantucket and get back to us later. No thanks

    August 30, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. What's in that tea anyway?

    It makes no sense whatsoever to discuss anything with the GOP/Tea/Congress braindead....They can't even do their regular everyday jobs. The GOP/Tea trolls have proven a feckless, three stooge like foreign policy ideology. The party of stupid nearly destroyed this country with their incoherent 10 year wars x's two(2) Afghanistan/Iraq whack a mole misadventure. Let these fools continue trying to repeal Obamacare...that's all they should be doing-
    Right Fair?

    Heck, we are more likely to destroy this country offering healthcare to americans than going to war in the middle east. Ho Hum

    August 30, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. Edward

    This is a civil war, not an attack on the US or its allies. Stay home.

    August 30, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. Good Grief!

    It's sad what's happening over there. However, it's really none of our business. This country is broke, and two unnecessary wars have placed an additional drain on our resources. The US can't control what happens in every country, nor should it. And we don't have any national interests there. It's not our place to say what happens in other countries. Besides, we can't afford it. Let Italy or France or Russia take care of it.

    August 30, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Fair is Fair

    @ What's in that tea anyway? –

    I posted on the topic, which was NOT Bush... NOT the IRS... the TOPIC. If you don't like my opinion, that's fine. It doesn't male my statements any less valid. Resortng to ad hominem attacks on me? Why? Does the truth hurt?

    August 30, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. OIF III Vet

    I am a veteran than does not support Obama but will do what the commander-in-cheif orders weather I like it or not. Syria is clearly using chemical weapons (like Saddam did to the Kurds in the 80s) but I do not support medeling in their civil war especially if other "super powers" and the UN are taking no stance against Syria. I'd have to disagree this is about oil...Syrial only supplies 0.48% of the world supply as of November 2012 (source: Wikipedia)...probably much less since their civil war started.

    August 30, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Data Driven

    @Fair is Fair,

    "Don't strike, and you project weakness and make America lose credibility internationally."

    That boat sailed a long, long time ago. I quite agree that Obama blundered when he publicly defined what was or was not acceptable behavior, but in the larger scheme of things, the blunder was pretty small. Large empires like ours are paper tigers by their very definition; the bad actors understand that we can't order the world to our liking and can't monitor every murderous action. They know we're really not in a position to follow up on our threats, whether made publicly or privately. Consider the wars of the past decade: we have the most incredibly powerful military the world has ever seen, and yet both Iraq and Afghanistan are firmly in the "L" column for us on wins and losses. And let's not even discuss Vietnam and Korea.

    August 30, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. gstlab3

    it will not matter as the fuse has been lit and the whole of the middle east is doomed to be destroyed during the coming world war.

    August 30, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    I say continue stay out of Syria at this point in time. If other Arab countries don't want to get their hands dirty, why should the US? Violating the Geneva Convention's chemical weapons provisions is a war crime. War crimes are an international issue handled by an international court.

    If Assad broke law and used chemical weapons, then let him be tried and found guilty by a war crimes court, in abstentia is need be.

    August 30, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Truth

    Half are FOR the war?
    I think that is a reach...
    More like only 25%.
    Try again CNN...........

    August 30, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Bob

    I supported the war in Iraq, which was in error. Why would we do even a limited engagement of something similar? WMD again...

    Bush meant well with Iraq, but we should not meddle with other nations. Ultimately it helped lead to the Arab Spring and Islamist control of much of the ME now. No more of this! It's a civil war, not something we should be involved in at the end of the day. Find ways to punish without strikes. Economically cripple the government etc.

    August 30, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Greg

    I personally am against this. However if the president intends to do this I would like to know to what end? What is this supposed to accomplish for the US? Do you honestly think this will improve relations with the US? Do you honestly think this will somehow stabilize the region? Why is it the OUR job to punish this crime? What is the UN for then?

    So NO we need to keep out of this.

    August 30, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. sonny chapman

    We should try to be Non Partisan re: this BUT, I'm struck by the 90% figure of Repubs. who want Congressional Approval. When W. was running the show Cheney basically said,"we don't need no stinking badges to take down Saddam".

    August 30, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  16. Frances Morris

    The so-called "Intel" that there's "proof" the Assad regime did this is VERY suspicious. "Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press journalist Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia."
    Obama is recklessly intervening (once again) with lies and deception, riding roughshod over the Constitution. There will be incalculable loss of life, perhaps our own – for what??? The world has gone mad!

    August 30, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. Bob

    CNN's poll is likely off. Another poll showed only 9.....9 percent support any action period.

    August 30, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. redware

    Have Americans been gassed? Are any strategic areas of importance to Americans endangered?Have allies of the United States we are bound to protect via treaty been attacked.No,no an no!We have no interest in stopping the internecine slaughter of American hating Muslim terrorists.Obama is a war-mongering,pro Al-Quaeda supporter.

    August 30, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. Jeremy

    I cant imagine being a parent wondering if your child is going to die next. My heart goes out to the people of Syria. Seeing those poor children lifeless in their parents arms should be enough for us to do something about it. Granted we have our own problems here and a case can easily be made to stay out of it....crimes against humanity whether you're an American or Syrian, should not be tolerated. At the end of the day, we're all humans.

    August 30, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Dixie

    Here we go again. When you do something without a clear plan you get into situations you can't easily get out of. We first of all cut our military. Now we need them and have less to use. Then if we think there won't be retaliation we are crazy. This won't be a two to three day strike.

    August 30, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    @ Data Driven –

    "Consider the wars of the past decade: we have the most incredibly powerful military the world has ever seen, and yet both Iraq and Afghanistan are firmly in the "L" column for us on wins and losses. And let's not even discuss Vietnam and Korea."
    Seems we don't do well in undeclared wars... otherwise, we're what? 9-0?

    August 30, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. sonny chapman

    What is the Threat to U.S. Security here? America has told Iran that it CANNOT have a Nuke. It would create extreme instability in the Middle East w/ Israel & Saudi Arabia. America & the World needs OIL & stability in the Mid East. At some point, America will tell Iran, No Nuke or we go to War. Iran is watching carefully what America does w/it's totally reasonable threat of No Chemical Weapons.

    August 30, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. Ryan

    The poll that showed 9 percent was whether we should fight on the side of the rebels. It was also taken before chemical weapons were used. I am one of those who would have said no to the earlier poll and I say yes to cruise missile strikes now. (Assuming we can prove that it was the Syrian government that used the WMDs, and that the cruise missile strikes are likely to be effective at preventing future use.)

    August 30, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    "Consider the wars of the past decade: we have the most incredibly powerful military the world has ever seen, and yet both Iraq and Afghanistan are firmly in the "L" column for us on wins and losses. And let's not even discuss Vietnam and Korea."

    Seems we don't do well in undeclared wars... otherwise, we're what? 9-0?
    There goes that right wing historical rewriting again. I guess that you've forgotten that both Iraq and Afghanistan were officially declared wars, approved by the Congress.

    August 30, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. Vince

    So what? The vast majority of Americans support gun control legislation. Clearly we don't get what we want.

    August 30, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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