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. Sherry

    Let the UN handle it .... This is their responsibility .... we can't parent the world – at some point we have to mind our own business. Yes what is going on is very wrong on every level – but we can't effectively stop them – so slapping them on the wrist is only going to make us look more foolish as the civil war rages on.

    August 31, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  2. Henri

    We need to stay out of other countries problems and attempt to fix everything that is wrong in the US. What purpose is the United Nations if we are not going to abide by their decisions. What business does Obama have in Syria? We are all getting tired of how our government is being run and no one is listening to the American people who voted them into office. It seems as though everything our government does is for personal gain and not the good of the people who pay their salaries.

    August 31, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. RI Jim

    We are broke and cannot afford to get into any more wars! We cannot be the world's policeman any more. If we cannot afford to feed our people, maintain our infrastructure, take care of our seniors, and pay our Government employees, then we need to STAY THE H@LL OUT!!!

    August 31, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. don ellis

    Syria is the only significant crude oil producing country in the Eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Syria had 2,500,000,000 barrels (400,000,000 m3) of petroleum reserves as of 1 January 2010.[

    August 31, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. AUR

    It is most important that all Dictators should be dealt with strongly whether they are self imposed or US installed.
    History speaks for itself. It looks now that it is more than just the Chemical Attack.
    US stated and blamed Iran using Chemical Attack on civilians when the Iran/Iraq war was about ending. Iran blamed Saddam.

    US supported Saddam's version that Iranians used it only to change that statement 10 years later. So US Govt. has a history with tainted credibility and proven Lies WMD being another example. It is Democracy and no one to be blamed (GIGO – Garbage in garbage out). You get what you sow by your vote.

    Anything which brings Freedom for Syrian People is what anyone like to see but then no dual standards that should be true to any other regime funded by US.

    August 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. don ellis

    The Rwandan Genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus that took place in 1994 in the East African state of Rwanda. It is considered the most organized genocide of the 20th century.[2] Over the course of approximately 100 days (from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira on April 6 through mid-July) over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.[3] Estimates of the death toll have ranged from 500,000–1,000,000,[1]

    August 31, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. Lort's

    What if the Syrian Generals are doing this on their own hoping that the US retaliate and get rid of the Dictator for them?

    What if al-Qaida is behind this, surely they can get their hands on poison gas and don't care who is killed and injured that is all they want is to draw the US in so that they can cause more deaths?

    To many ifs, the border is open why don't they just leave the country, if there was no one left who would Assad dictate. The money spent on missiles could be spent feeding the refugees in a bordering country, the US would be praised instead of condemned.

    August 31, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Julie

    Iraq used chemical weapons both in the north and against Iran. Not much was said. We were for Saddam's side at the time. What makes this different from the late 1980's? Just curious why not the same outrage.

    August 31, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Atmore

    The cost will be to great, NO MORE WAR , Need to show who did what , other ways to fix this problem, I say NO .

    August 31, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. Raleigh

    Obama or Bush they both talk out of both sides of their mouths. they sound so much alike . don't trust Obams

    August 31, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. CJPA

    Remember when Rumsfield said "shock and awe" would only last 48 hours – a week at the most!!?? NO MORE WAR!

    August 31, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. Dave Rogers

    It's kind of amusing, in a disturbed sort of way, to see folks switch sides on an issue like this. The same folks who were saying it was treasonous to criticize a sitting President in time of (perpetual) war are now saying the middle east should be allowed to destroy itself..

    .. and the voices who were saying that Cheney and Bush should be tried for war crimes have now decided that Extraordinary Rendition is just a necessary part of the game.

    I'm starting to think there isn't a principled position among the lot of the USA. Not in the people, not in the politicians.

    August 31, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. jlf

    while i sympathize with the Syrian people, whose government has chosen to use chemical weapons, a henious act, against them in their civil war, i do not feel that it is our responsibility to the punisher; we are not the world police, that is the UN is for, they should do their job and handle the punishment.

    August 31, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. Tod Smith

    I don't think the US can listen to the UN at all.

    If China and Russia is running the show the UN is NEVER going to do anything against a dictator government.

    August 31, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. MarkW

    Dear George and Dick,

    I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my dark, immoral heart, for what you have done for me. Your relentless campaign of lies directed at your own people back in 2002-3 to get them to support a war against someone for some IMAGINARY chemical weapons they might some day use, has left your people cynical about being lied to – and more importantly tired of war.

    This has been enormously helpful to me in essentially giving me a blank check to use REAL chemical weapons and to act with impunity. I can never thank you two as much as your friends in the oil industry already have, I realize. But I hope you'll accept this basket of fruit as a token of my appreciation.

    Sincerely and with a big wet kiss,

    Bashar al Assad

    President of Syria


    August 31, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. NameFrank Deery

    Where is the outrage and military action from the Arab World, especially Saudia Arabia, with it's military jets, and Qatar? They let the US and others fight their battles, but play both sides-to survive and profit. They are also intimidated by Iran, the non-Arab menace about to go nuclear-and the ones backing Assad of Syria.

    Obama should stay out of this mess, chemical weapons or no, and make a statement putting the ownness on the Arab
    League, et al. If he does strike militarily, it should be at Iran, the Nazi's of today, not their puppet Syria. Anything the US does now will only embolden the anti-American
    movement in that region.

    August 31, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. KC

    The President yelling about this issue doesn't help me say yes about killing Syrian people for killing Syrian people. I am from Nevada and I say no to this knee jerk attack of my representative's.
    I am not just weary of war I am tired we think we know best for other people. The killings in Africa (1000's), Mexico (1000's) and South America (1000's) are horrible but we don't end wars like WWII since WWII. We screw around bomb a little and then think everything is hunky dory. No President, not if you are not going to end the violence in Africa once and for all. I am suppose to trust the UN according to the President and they say no attack!!!

    August 31, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. Irene Murphy

    I think we need to start taken care of our own people. We have kids and families that go hungry every day , retired citizen that worked all their lives and have to choose between food and medicine. My Husband was in the military for 15 yrs. and dealt with Iraq and Somalia funny no one helped us when we station in Europe.
    So many soldier come back with serious problems and injuries before you send more of our Husbands, Fathers, Brothers and loved ones in harms way and blow more of our Tax money on other countries especially that calls us infidels and want us out of their countries. You better make sure you have the means to take care of the American People for a chance . All we is a lot of blah blah and fighting about how to spend our money.
    I feel for the people in Syria but what about the people and children in this country don't they count.
    Let the UN handle and your strongest allies pulled , why do we always have to stick our nose in their business.

    August 31, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. David Barthel

    Why is this country the police officer of the world? Action against Syria would be another huge mistake, which eventually would drastically change the lives of many families.

    August 31, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. San

    When Syria crossed the red line, that is using unconventional weapon against its own people, its not just matter its a war, its more of like enforcing an international law that is created by UK and other countries in the face of the WWI/II. To me the war against the IRAQ in the pretense of WMD, but it was not there. In this case the proof is there that the unconventional weapon being used and UN sign for that. What we accomplish from this is that, we cripple the Syrian war machine to an extend it will stop using such things as GAS etc.

    I agree for taking this action against the Syrian Army. And I think the consequence of not taking any action will definite send mixed signal to the Syrian Gov and they will be strengthened in their act of committing additional atrocities against its citizen and hacking the websites or crippling commercial activities of US and other opposing countries.

    August 31, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Juan

    so why now? after 100,000 already dead and you knew stood by and let it happen with guns, bombs,etc. why do you want to get involved while they were killed. Allegedly they use chemical weapons and kill approximately 1,500 more and you have a sudden change of heart? I don't believe that. What are your unannounced reasons? the message I understand is that its ok to kill your own people as long as you dont use chemical weapons. that makes no sense. And i dont accept your actions or decisions on this matter. I support our women and men in our military and thank them for their great service.

    August 31, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  22. ted

    Syria is all about oil pipelines. The key (unstated) reason for Qatar to be so obsessed by regime change in Syria is to kill the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which was agreed upon in July 2011. The same applies to Turkey, because this pipeline would bypass Ankara, which always bills itself as the key energy crossroads between East and West.

    August 31, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. Juan

    As much as Obama ran his political campaign against Bust( who i didnt like) Obama sounds like he is making the same move bush made in Iraq.

    August 31, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. chodar

    What do we hope to accomplish? Violence only brings more violence. Along with hatred and resentment. Getting involved in this conflict by inflicting harm will be counter-productive. Are we insane?

    August 31, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Gary

    If the President and Secretary of State can convince the Senate and Congress that chemical weapons were used by the current Syrian Regime and not terrorists or the Rebels and our Congress and Senate do not vote along with the President for striking out at Syria for using chemical weapons on women and children then Ihis would severely damage the American peoples confidence in our government. If the Congress and the Senate do authorize the use of American force then this would prove to the American people and the World that America will stand up for what is right and is willing to take strong action against the forces of evil.

    August 31, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
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