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. Tom Doniphon

    "when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn"? Just what does it take to suggest to our Commander in Chief that the USA cannot be the police power of the world? Do we need another Viet Nam or perhaps another Afghanistan/Iraq?
    It is terrible that bad things happen to innocent people in Asia, Africa, South America, but the U.S. and the Democrats need to practice what they preached to Mr. Bush. Diplomacy first and last.

    August 30, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  2. Bob

    If your against doing anything to a countries dictator who is violating a 1925 international law against the use of chemical weapons even during a declared war then come at least comment that you are FOR: repealing the law and letting countries like Iran manufacture and use them.

    August 30, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. Bill

    You forget humankinds history. The world turned a blind eye to the plight of the jews – looked what happened there. The world turned a blind eye to the chinese in manchuria – look what happened there. People chose to ignore what was happening to the indians of these united states – forced onto reservations with no thought to their survival. So if you choose to become isolationists, so be it, but I'd rather help another person regardless of their beliefs, color, gender – espesially if they are being harmed. Cruise missle and /or drone – better targetting and less loss of life – as long as the targets are missle batteries, aircraft or other military hardware that cause mass caualities.

    August 30, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  4. Ken

    What a misleading headline. I haven't found a single person who supports this. It's just as hard to find anyone who believes chemical attacks are the reason we are doing this. Anybody who knows anything about what is going on is not for this! Our history is littered with these incidents that later always turn out to be huge mistakes.

    Brought to us by the same liars who blamed Benghazi on a youtube video, even though all intel pointed elsewhere...

    August 30, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  5. no way

    What if those were old Libyan chemical weapons that were actually used by the Syrian rebels and supplied by the CIA. Why would the Syrian President use chemical weapons on his own people, especially knowing we may intervene if he does? Why do we believe everything our government tells us? This could be a smoke screen to draw the U.S. into another war.

    August 30, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  6. Bill

    In war the winner is the loser ,I say No action,the United States has to pay attention to this country,UK says they will not help,France says it will join in the efforts.It was one thing on 9-11 they attacked us and paid the price,that was the right thing to do.

    August 30, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. hender1123

    If the polls disagree with Obama then they are wrong. Obama told us that the business of politics should be left to the professionals because us citizens are too stupid to understand such things (YouTube).

    August 30, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  8. Scott

    Just because 1/2 oppose doesn't mean 1/2 approve. You should talk about the approval and support in literal terms rather than speak about the opposition forcing some to assume the other half are in favor.

    August 30, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  9. jon doe

    Seems like 99% of comments are wondering where the hell they were when this survey took place, myself included.

    I even believe it was the american-funded rebel group who did it so we have the excuse to attack them. If we start this war I'm immigrating out of America!

    August 30, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  10. Beth

    No ,No, No.... it would be a huge mistake getting involved in Syria. Let the surrounding Muslim countries resolve this civil war.
    We have a huge deficit here in USA, and other countries in the area should become involved, not the USA going alone.
    Worst mistake we could ever make. We have given enough blood and dollars to people that hate us.

    August 30, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  11. Jane smith

    I do not believe that 50% of the American people are in favor of this CRAP!!! This is just another example of the Manipulation of Itel ..just like about Iraq and Saddam.Just more lies to justify what only 1 % wants to do...using the phony ploy of innocent children being "gassed" to garner sympathy.

    August 31, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  12. Caribbean Reader

    The question we all have to ask ourselves is: Is this posible military intervention in the best interest of the US? Even if Assad has really used chemical weapons against his own people? Feeling sorry for the slain syrians is not enough to get us involved in a war. We are just finishing 10 years of war in Irak and Afghanistan and there are more pressing domestic matters to tend to.

    August 31, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  13. IB

    "Half of all Americans say they oppose possible U.S. military action against Syria, according to a new national poll."? What? I was never polled, where was the poll? Half of all Americans? Are you implying over 300 million people, every single American voted? Well i never voted so now you can add my vote and since it was half, my vote is NO action in syria. So you can now say "Majority of Americans say they oppose possible U.S. military actions against Syria".

    August 31, 2013 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  14. john

    The pro war crowed at CNN are putting out bad information only 9% of the people want this country to attack Syria the usual crew like with Iraq are trying to bamboozle everybody again,

    August 31, 2013 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  15. israfael12

    Countless Syrian children have been brutally murdered and gassed with chemical weapons by an evil tyrant. So for idiot cowards to act like we're supposed to just turn a blind eye and keep letting these innocent Syrian children get killed, is a crime in and of itself. John Kerry said it best, "people like that need to check their moral compass!" I mean after all, if you and your children were being indiscriminately picked off one by one you by a malevolent dictator, you would be crying out for help to, you selfish hypocrites!

    August 31, 2013 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  16. Douglas

    We should condemn the use of chemical weapon, but stay out of Syria conflict. No merit to waste the American blood and resources .....Let learn the lesson from Egypt recently.

    August 31, 2013 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  17. Pkk

    The NBC poll results seem to differ substantially from social media sites such as Twitter or DISQUS where the overwhelming majority of comments are opposed to any military action as the administration is currently pursuing. Maybe this poll was taken at the Whie House or the Pentagon.

    August 31, 2013 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  18. miscreantsall

    1. For his own good, Obama should get approval from Congress (smartest choice he can make).

    2. We should not strike out at Syria because they are destroying each other. That is their problem, let them decimate each other.

    3. If we did take action, there is no one in that country nor anyone anywhere in the region that would appreciate it. We would be criticized and berated and be subject to more terrorist activities.

    4. If Syria indisputably demonstrates and uses methods that could threaten us in the USA then, we strike hard, decisively, without mercy at Syria's government and military.

    August 31, 2013 04:50 am at 4:50 am |
  19. prayerful citizen

    We the people must get on our knee' 's an pray for this nation God says venges is mine an if we stand up for righteous ,seek guidence from God, pray for our leaders ,an let's enourage one another to be mind that we as people have power to change a nation together.

    August 31, 2013 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  20. Stacie

    August 31, 2013 at 5:15 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Syrian leaders and rebels must be held accountable for the civil atrocities against it's humanity. The use of chemical warfare must be halted now as we live in a time where use of chemicals is a relevant threat to all humanity. Obama is our Commander in Cheif, and Congress, the US peoples and the UN must send Syria a clear message that these activities will be halted and if that requires the formation of a military coalition against Syria; then, so be it. America's primary concern must be for the rights of all humanity first and foremost and secondly that of the interest of America's ally, Israel since this is clearly a religious matter of radical islamists wanting control of Israel. Obama must send a clear message to Syria that the us of chemicals warfare will not be tolerated by any nation. If we let this slide; then, it definitely sends the message other perceived threats (i.e., Iran and ultimately Russia) that the US is only concerned about the US.

    August 31, 2013 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  21. Brandon

    50%? Yea right!!! This media just working for Obama it is disgusting!

    August 31, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  22. John

    There is no evidence as yet that this was not the rebels using it to politically upset Assad. They did this before in May. Remember the rush then suddenly stopped to war when it was shown the rebels launched it? Well you should remember and so should the President.
    What price a natural gas pipeline through Syria to Turkey to break the Russian monopoly. That is what the red line is

    August 31, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  23. helpUSA

    NO NO NO intervention in Syria! As a taxpayer and voter, I REFUSE to pay for the war, and we CANNOT borrow more money from China and elsewhere to fund this SENSELESS bombing elsewhere. While the death of civilians is appauling, think about how many civilians die in our own soil because of gun violence, drugs, traffic accidents, cancer, and other causes. We are about to hit the debt ceiling, it is RIDICULOUS and IRRESPONSIBLE to borrow and get into another mess just to save a face or, "show" something. Violence breeds violence, you get into the mess but just one bullet, they will aim at us AMERICIANs instead to justifiably take revenge of us! What's the point!! PLEASE, don't get into this mess!

    August 31, 2013 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  24. William R. Hill

    This should be a no-brainer for Obama. He's supposed to let Congress make the decision. Whether this Congress can decide anything is beside the point in this instance. Give the legislators the ball and get yourself off the hook, Mr. President. Any military action we take is not going to accomplish anything except to stir up more trouble.

    August 31, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  25. mario salazar

    Lk bk @ Russia n Afgan war, who helpd who n where r we @ now?Bad partabt it nobody in the world cares abt us (US States of America)we are still in war and our young men n women r still healing.Let's take care of our own.

    August 31, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
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