Syrian civil war in photos
August 30th, 2013
08:14 AM ET
11 months 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. Evergreen

    Dictators are born faster than the US can depose them. At some point we are going to have to accept that we alone can not rid the world of every evil that emerges.

    August 30, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Barbara Chaddick

    I don't believe we should bomb Syria! Those poor people are suffering enough! What we should do is ask all our Allies in the UN to join forces together and have each countries special forces go into Syria and do a surgical strike on Assad and his Regime and wipe them off the face of the earth! We don't need to hurt anymore civilians than Assad has already done and we need to send in food, tents and medical supplies to help the people of Syria AFTER our Allies in the UN has removed Assad and his evil Regime! We want PEACE, NOT WAR! Barbara Chaddick

    August 30, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I don't care what the President said or didn't say, I care what he DOES.
    No one, NO ONE has asked for the level of perfection that you all seem to expect from THIS President.
    Shut up, sit down and pray to the God some of you like to pay so much lip service to that he guide our President as he has been guiding him for these past so many years.
    I trust our President's judgment, certainly moreso than I trust the previous occupant and anybody in the vecinity of the Oval Office.

    August 30, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    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.
    ---------
    The United States has not offcially delcared war since World War II. You're wrong, Rudolph.

    August 30, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Pamela Rice

    There is no real proof that Assad launched chemical weapons. To have done so would have been ludicrous for him. Inspectors were on their way. He would have been found out immediately. Assad is winning the war. Why would he risk having the USA come in to tip the balance. In fact this is why it makes sense that the "Rebels" launched the gas attack; they had everything to gain with a gas attack blamed on Assad. Assad welcomed the U.N. inspectors. The USA was "sure" immediately, wanted to retaliate before inspectors did their job. Come on... This was a false flag attack perpetrated by USA/Israel Reuters tells us 91% of U.S. citizens polled do not want Obama to bomb Damaskis.... Obama, come clean. And prevent WWIII, too.

    August 30, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Steveo

    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.
    ---------------
    1. Where did you read the GOP wants war? The last time I checked, the president (a DEMOCRAT drew the red line).
    2. I read 90% of the GOP stated the president should get approval from the Congress. The GOP did not draw a line of ANY color!

    August 30, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. Bhoot

    History repeats...just replace Iraq with Syria, Saddam with Assad, WMD with CW, Bush with Obama...and you will have the whole epic in front of you.

    August 30, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    And let me just add that I remain FOREVER thankful to the so-called Founding Fathers for their vision in ensuring that this call on Syria remains strictly the PRESIDENT'S call.
    It is killing some people that they can't put their two-cents in or much less impact THIS decision.
    It lies in the hands of the POTUS, and him alone.
    And thank God Almighty for that.

    August 30, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Data Driven

    @Fair is Fair,

    "Seems we don't do well in undeclared wars... otherwise, we're what? 9-0?"

    Perhaps it IS that simple. But I think the "undeclared wars" part of it goes hand-in-hand with our foolish attempts to be a world hegemon, commencing after 1945. We're not good at it; it's not in our character, let alone our national charters.

    And let me be clear: I'm not faulting the bravery of our troops or anything like that. I'm faulting the decision-makers on foreign policy and, generally speaking, the futility of Empire.

    August 30, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. HiddenHAND

    90% of the US population doesn't even know where Syria is, let alone what's going on there. But, by all means, spread your propaganda and falsified numbers. Nobody in their sane mind supports intervention in Syria.

    August 30, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Pamela Rice

    There is evidence that it was, in fact, the "Rebels" who perpetrated the gas attack in Syria. There is evidence the "Rebels" are made up of Al-Qaeda forces. Why when we see them broadcast on TV they always have their heads covered with head stockings?

    August 30, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. this ain't hope and change

    Glad to see CNN is still functioning as the propaganda wing of the Obama regime. How much did they pay you for this farce of a poll?

    August 30, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. April

    Thinking about the Chemical Weapons attack in Syria-as with any crime –you first look at who has the most to gain from the crime–which in this case is –the Rebels–. Assad had just took back the most important cities that the Rebels had held-they were losing support after the stories of them cutting soldiers hearts out and eating them surfaced, and war weary Americans no longer wanted to support their cause. Wake up America-it isn't whether chemical weapons were used or not–it is WHO did it!!!

    August 30, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    1. Where did you read the GOP wants war? The last time I checked, the president (a DEMOCRAT drew the red line).
    2. I read 90% of the GOP stated the president should get approval from the Congress. The GOP did not draw a line of ANY color!
    -------------------
    1. If military action isn't war, then what is it? Republicans don't draw lines, they cross them. With a President McCain or Romney would have been engaged a few months after the violence began. For what?
    2. If the GOP really wanted a vote, then how come they're still off vacationing? Because they're making a political bluff. I say call them on it, and encourage them to take a vote so that they can put themselves on record. I know how important voting records are to the right wing, so let 'em put up or shut up.....just as long as they understand that the final decision whether or not to take action rests with the Commander-In-Chief.

    August 30, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    read 90% of the GOP stated the president should get approval from the Congress.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You can tell those so-called upholders of the Constitution ( except when it doesn't benefit them, then they want to re-write it or IGNORE it. See: Supreme Court's decision on Affordable Care Act) that the President will get approval, should he indeed need approval, from the necessary channels as stated in the Constitution.
    Their demands, and uninformed advice is neither needed nor requested.

    August 30, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. tracy

    Don't do it Obama. We need to learn from our mistakes from the past. We don't need to get involved in conflict in the Middle East again even if it is just targeted missile strikes. We will just spend millions of taxpayer money and gas prices will go up. I'm sorry that Asad has chosen to exterminate his own people, but those who would take power of Syria are no better and are hostile toward Americans. We need to mind our own business and stop medaling especially without the support of our closest ally.

    August 30, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. Joe Nobody

    You can't count this as valid, democrats blindly follow democrats, without thinking.

    August 30, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Libdumb

    Those that voted for it can fight it. You know them ignoramouses that called Bush a liar for WMDs. Hope your families come home in body bags.

    August 30, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Bob

    Ryan, thanks for the correction on the 9 percent. I won't point to that again obviously. If chemical weapons were used, I think we should do something, I just don't think attacks are the way to go. Learned my lesson supporting Iraq.

    August 30, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. Dave

    It is illegal and immoral for us to act in Syria unilaterally. You wouldn't let me shoot a known felon who wasn't an immediate threat to me without putting me in jail. This is no different. We aren't the World Police. We have no authority to act if Americans aren't threaten directly unless the UN asks for a united action on behalf of the UN membership. Unless Americans are under immediate threat, to act is as crimminal as what Syria is doing.

    August 30, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  21. Steveo

    @Rudy NYC

    1. Where did you read the GOP wants war? The last time I checked, the president (a DEMOCRAT drew the red line).
    2. I read 90% of the GOP stated the president should get approval from the Congress. The GOP did not draw a line of ANY color!
    -------
    1. If military action isn't war, then what is it? Republicans don't draw lines, they cross them. With a President McCain or Romney would have been engaged a few months after the violence began. For what?
    2. If the GOP really wanted a vote, then how come they're still off vacationing? Because they're making a political bluff. I say call them on it, and encourage them to take a vote so that they can put themselves on record. I know how important voting records are to the right wing, so let 'em put up or shut up.....just as long as they understand that the final decision whether or not to take action rests with the Commander-In-Chief.
    ----------–
    So EVERY GOP member wants war and NO DEM does, huh?
    You can cut the what if Romney or McCain! That is not reality! The reality is that that RED LINE backed us into a corner!
    And NO, not every military action is NOT war!
    What you have completely ignored is the fact that 70% of DEMS want a vote as well. Are the Dems back from vacation or is this just a GOP problem?

    August 30, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. Peter

    Currently the basis of sound legal advice seems to be eluding some of the brightest legal minds, including US State Dept Attorneys. CNN Middle East just posed a question to a State Dept Attorney who advised that the US would act illegally if it took unilateral action against Syria without UN sanction, yet CNN Anchors asked, "is there no other law to use?". It seems we may have forgotten the legal formula used by the Allies during the Second World war trials at Nuremburg, where US Military tribunals were tasked with trying Nazis for crimes against humanity and whose defence was they were only following national laws. The tribunal acted on the the premise that there were higher laws......the laws of God to try cases on matters of crimes against humanity. Surely this principle though 70 years old is still as relevant today to protect innocent civilians.
    Ass Prof. Peter DArcy based in the Middle East

    August 30, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    the legal formula used by the Allies during the Second World war trials at Nuremburg, where US Military tribunals were tasked with trying Nazis for crimes against humanity and whose defence was they were only following national laws
    -------------------------------------------------
    Really Peter?
    I'm going to have to go back to my college textbooks and research that (or maybe just Google it!), as I was under the impression that their defense was that they were "only following orders".

    August 30, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. lex

    Ruthless dictators need to be taught a lesson. So far the only lesson learned is that ruthless dictators can do their thing and get away with it.

    Assad should be executed now or, if necessary, after a war crimes trial.

    If Obama can execute terrorists by predator, why not Assad?

    August 30, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  25. patti

    Mr President I cant begin to feel the pressire and saddness you must be going threw,but please think of the suffering children and the damage this thug will continue to thrust apon his people. There will always be those.against war but this one is more needed then the last two.I will stand on your side and may god bless us all

    August 30, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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