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. Gary

    Why does the UN not do something. The US is NOT the world's police force, that is what the UN Security force is for.

    August 30, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Bob Saget

    So does the president count as the other half in this poll?

    August 30, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. t

    no NO NO NO USA military action in Syria.........

    August 30, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. Ron

    This is a lose/lose situation if those cruise missiles fly.

    August 30, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. NotYoDaddy

    Let me guess!

    This time it is the Other Half than opposed action under Bush.

    August 30, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. us_1776

    This is the SAME half that wanted to GO TO WAR over FAKE WMD/s !!!

    Go figure.


    August 30, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Name

    Wait when did I vote on this survey? Half of all Americans? Where was I?

    August 30, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  8. ug

    More like 99.9%...but the lib media always lies...

    August 30, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. Thomas

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people , even if he did not he has lost control of them .
    He's a war criminal and needs to be removed and tried in the world court !

    August 30, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. MrRickinNH

    Exactly what will be gained by a strike on Syria?? Besides disrupting world markets, costing the US taxpayers millions, And destabilizing the region. Obama stuff a sock in your red line!

    August 30, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Pressure is on...

    "If the US cannot put together a strong coalition then we should leave it alone." or Just do late night drone attacks and pretend like we dont know who did it.... #justdoit #optionB

    August 30, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. Larry L


    Can somebody please tell me why chemical weapons are that much worse than Tomahawk cruise missiles? Also are chemical weapons worse that torturing, dismembering and then cannibalizing?
    Chemical weapons are a better terror weapon than anything else. They drift with the wind (most) and strike down everything in the cloud's path. Most of the nerve agents are generally odorless and invisible – yet subject victims to a horrible and all but certain death. Some agents cause blindness, huge blisters and deep burns. Some are choking agents and others burn-out the lungs, eyes, and mucous membranes. They are the poor-man's nuke and something the world community must eradicate before terrorist organizations have easy access. Some of the biologicals (anthrax and ricin for example) are deployed like chemical agents and fall within the same relative threat group – but are much slower-acting weapons. Study them and you'll understand the difference between chemical agents and much more precise munitions.

    August 30, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Lorena Marshall

    No, the U.S. should not do anything in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons!! Well, the use of chemical weapons by Syria is horrible, the U.S. is NOT the policeman for the world.

    August 30, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Leonard

    Both sides in this conflict are American's enemies, always will be. They hate everything we represent, leave these medevil idiots alone to do what they will never stop doing.

    August 30, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. Widow

    Yes well half of Americans are pretty stupid.. The president made his bed by creating an imaginary line.. Countries will do whatever they want to if the US doesn't keep it's word. Obama might be not keeping his word to the American people but internationally it is a much bigger deal for economics and politics to not keep your word. Maybe Americans are just used to BS from politicians.. After all what moron would vote for a guy that just wasted 7 trillion dollars.. More money than every war America has faught in today's value of the dollar.. Think about that

    August 30, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. Adam

    There is no way I believe 50% of Americans support a strike on Syria. Let them kill each other because thats what wild animals do.

    August 30, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. boungiorno

    a day late and a dollar short rolls eyes

    August 30, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. Paul

    I am against this 100% we do not need to be tangled up in another bloodbath. This is WRONG!!! there are Terrorists on both sides of this CIVIL war. What business does Obama have in Syria?

    August 30, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  19. Paul

    I am tired of us being involved with one war after another. This needs to stop.

    August 30, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. JOey

    This poll like any other poll conducted by the mainstream media is a blatant lie! Probably 75%, if not higher, of Americans are opposed to any type of military intervention in the Middle East, specially, when American lives are at risk.

    August 30, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. Red

    I am really glad that we have a President with a cool head during a time like this.

    August 30, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  22. Matthew

    Bad idea. Fire off what could cost at least 100k a missile in our tax dollars against a country that we don't need to police. First it starts with just missiles, than it leads to us having to get involved on the ground. More debt and Americans killed, smart move Obama.

    August 30, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  23. Doug

    Why should we believe anything coming from the Obama White House? What did he say regarding the terrorist attack on our embassy in Libya? The USA is not the police force of the world. That is what the UN is for. We should sit this one out.

    August 30, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  24. Jan

    Nobody seems to realize that no matter what, the least intervention will definitely degenerate into a 3rd world war!
    Have we become that stupid?

    August 30, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  25. Ron

    Apparently we didn't learn anything from Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, or Egypt. The lesson should be to stop wasting our troops, and our money in wars that we can't win. In Syria, if Assad wins, after we turned on him, we are his enemy. If the rebels win, it will mean that the Muslim Brotherhood will control Syria. Either way, we lose. Stay out of other people's business!

    August 30, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
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