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. Marie Jme

    US should STOP being the police of the world!!!

    August 31, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Burt

    Should the polls be as follows:

    Do you beleive America should stop dictators from using chemical weapons on its only people?
    I beleive as a Baby Boomer who has been through it all, we should. Too much risk that some crazy will think they can attack with these types of weapons.

    Glad for the debate before going to war!

    Just thoughts

    August 31, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. snowdog

    Agree with Obama. The rest of the world sits on their hands and does nothing while innocent people die. The rest of the world countries are cowards. The Unites States always defends humanity. The UN is useless.

    August 31, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. Sternlight

    The President is a coward. He is a coward about Syria, he was a coward about Obamacare, remaining silent and letting the lobbyists do the heavy lifting with Congress, he has been a coward about sending budgets to Congress, he has been a coward about massive black on black crime and births out of wedlock in the Black community, he has been a coward in not denouncing Black leaders who ignore these problems, and he will likely be a coward about stopping Iran's Nukes.

    August 31, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  5. Richard Yodice

    It's not about the outcome from a military strike. It's about leadership of freedom in the world. It's times like these where a democracy allows the President to act decisively, and lead which is the most important job we elected him for. The tyrants of the world have to fear us or they will continue to kill for there own self-aggrandizing needs! Let's do this. Evil in the world is watching and waiting.

    August 31, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  6. Sternlight

    Evidence of the President's cowardice goes at least back to the first campaign, when he called Jerusalem Israel's single undivided capital in a speech to AIPAC, only to take it back the next morning when the Arabs didn't like it.

    August 31, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  7. Richard Yodice

    Even if we cause the downfall of Assad, and the instability in the region becomes worse, God Forbid, I still think we should strike at his regime because it sets a bar in the world that says free nations are not going to tolerate this tyranny.

    August 31, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Kathy Kilpatrick

    We are not the police of the world, though we like to think so. In consideration of our own debt & internal problems, I dare say we would be more than foolish to get involved in Syria's problems. Are they killing Americans? Have they asked us to get involved? Are we ever appreciated for what we do in these countries? Yes, they are using chemical warfare on their own inhumane! If, however, they choose to kill their own people our involvement would be temporary at best, we will never change the social inhumanity in these people. These type of horrible things are going on all over the world,& we can't intervene everywhere. It does little good!! We're still in Afghanistan....let's get "out". And let's clean up our own backyard, & strengthen our homeland security against such barbarians instead of spending more money on these futile wars .

    I don't know what happens to our elected officials when they go to Washington because they certainly don't represent their people. I'd like to see that happen for a change, & I think we'd see positive progress in our own country, which should be our main concern!I I vote for taking care of "OUR PEOPLE in OUR COUNTRY".

    August 31, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. red state

    Obama is a weenie, has never been a leader, and only knows how to look good on TV. He wants someone else to make this decision, like always. We are a laughingstock and have no authority in the world anymore. Anything he eventually does will be bad for the USA and good for our enemies.

    We only have his word that chemical weapons were used–I don't trust him OR the UN to tell us the truth–about anything. Neither has our interests at heart.

    August 31, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. Rusty Gibbs

    Wake people ,our Great Nation has already used every Weapon of Mass Destruction and what has humanity gained ?
    We still go to war and kill other people in the name of freedom and Democracy. Just one other point is do we keep track of all the collateral damage ( women ,children & old people) that our current method of killing machines known as drones?? I have not seen any tally .yet ........

    August 31, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. Rusty Gibbs

    P S = " Love your country ( I Do) BUT question your Government " always !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 31, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. Texas

    It's more than half....left and right alike.....bipartisan support to stay out.

    August 31, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Texas

    More than half I suspect...

    August 31, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. T E X A S

    Hopefully the party of NO will prevail

    August 31, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Richard Right

    Have we been asked by the Arab League to attack Syria because of Syria's chem attack? No Have the Saudis, Egyptians, Turks and Jordanians attacked peripheral targets over the use of chem weapons? No! But for some reason we should attack. WE NEED TO LEAVE Syria ALONE.

    August 31, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. Chuckie

    His critics want it both ways; if he takes unilateral action, he is a dictator that does not listen to the people or their representatives, but if he seeks authorization from congress, he is a weak kneed coward afraid to back up his words. There are just a lot of folks that don't like him and are critical of anything he does. They don’t oppose the actions on their merit, but because he proposes them. You can bet McCain and Graham didn't see this coming. NOw they are saying the president is right and a closer look should be given to the issue.

    August 31, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    I am ashamed to be an American today! The poor excuse of a President we have in office is shameful! First, he can not even lead his own people in his own country. Now he waits around and warns Syria to hide everything they have. After all of that, he now wants to not take responsibility and tries to push it off onto others! What kind a chicken poop is he? He WILL go down as the most ineffective and shameful presidents we have ever known!

    August 31, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. John Coleman Jr

    Syria has already moved out all of it's assets so they would not get destroyed in a US strike..
    So what's the point?? Cruise missiles cost more then the building they will hit.

    August 31, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  19. deathstalker

    Yeah right! Three days ago it was 9 percent and I don't even believe that. Im so sick of this propaganda! Yeah Evil is in the world and it's in DC! Wake up Americans we are constantly being lied to!

    August 31, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  20. Petra

    My son is a US marine – I talked to him about this. He pointed out that Russia would be on the Syrian side – Iran would invade Israel – this could very quickly turn into WW3 We need to NOT get involved it this. Who are we? The world police?

    August 31, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |

    Obama boxed himself in is is looking for a way to save face, but its too late he just looks foolish.

    August 31, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  22. Kieran

    I support Obama. Laws which are not enforced are meaningless. If no one punishes Syria for gassing its own people, then all of the progress we've made since WW2 in uniting the countries of the world could quickly be erased. 98% of the world's countries signed a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons, yet only a handful of them are actually willing to stand up to Syria. It's a joke. What's the point of even having a treaty then?

    August 31, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  23. M'lynn

    No no no no no. No interventions! Stop crying great big crocodile tears for Syria and ignoring Us. You do remember us? The citizens of the US? We are getting damned tired of being ignored.

    August 31, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  24. boungiorno

    What matters most is Global humanity!

    August 31, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  25. Kurt L.

    Not another war in the Middle East. It starts with advisors, training opposition groups, bombings and now cruise missiles. Eventually we get involved in a full scale war. After 7 to 10 years we leave with no resolution. We are tired of wars – the Vietnam War in my time – the Iraq war in my son's time – and now the Syrian war in my grandsons' time. NO MORE US INVOLVEMENT IN FOREIGN WARS. We had enough! We shed too much blood and spent too much money already. We are tired and broke! Let Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Turkey take care of the mess in Syria. The problem is in their region.

    August 31, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
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