September 9th, 2013
01:21 PM ET
8 months ago

CNN Poll: Why it's not worth attacking Syria

Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans don't think it is worth attacking Syria militarily just to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad over alleged chemical weapons use, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that a majority of respondents worry U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war might lead to wider conflict in the region that could involve the use of American troops and trigger new chemical attacks, possibly against the United States at home.

But the poll conducted over the weekend also shows that more than half of the respondents believe a military strike against Syrian forces is worth it to deter and degrade the ability of al-Assad to launch future chemical attacks.

"And a slight majority also says preventing other countries from developing and using chemical or nuclear weapons would make U.S. military action in Syria worthwhile," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey indicates six in 10 say it's not worth attacking Syria to punish al-Assad's forces over the alleged use of chemical weapons against their own citizens, with 39% saying a strike would be worth it to punish Damascus.

More than seven in 10 say that a larger war would develop and two-thirds say Washington would eventually send ground troops to Syria if the U.S launches an attack.

Two-thirds also say the Syrian government would use chemical weapons in the future even if the United States launches an attack, and more than six in 10 say that terrorists would use chemical weapons stateside if the United States were to strike.

"More than eight in 10 Americans say the United States should not choose sides in the Syrian conflict and only three in 10 think that it is worth attacking Syria to remove" al-Assad from power, adds Holland.

The poll's release comes hours before President Barack Obama sits down for interviews with major U.S. broadcast and cable news networks, including CNN, and one day before he addresses the nation in prime time to make the case for military action.

Are there any goals that the president could articulate that the public would find worthwhile?

Yes, and they all involve weapons of mass destruction. Although most Americans don't think it's worth an attack just to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons in the past, 53% say it's worth it to deter and degrade Syria's ability to launch future chemical attacks.

Majorities also say that preventing other countries from developing and using chemical (51%) or nuclear weapons (55%) would make U.S. military action in Syria worthwhile.

But 54% say that it's not worth the risk to attack simply to maintain U.S. credibility in the world.

Nearly two-thirds say it's not worth attacking Syrian government forces to reduce their advantage over the various anti-government rebel groups, two thirds say it's not worth attacking to remove the Syrian government from power, and 85% say the United States should not take sides in the country's civil war.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International September 6-8, with 1,022 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • Syria
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. just saying

    it is clear the american people are not behind obama and his war mongering democrats. they know syria means nothing to the usa and is not worth one american live or one cent of our money. we have no national interest there and frankly, assad is killing a lot of jihadis right now and in a strange twist of fate is actually doing the usa a favor.

    September 9, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. ProtecAmericanJobs

    The Middle East is going to continue to be a never ending region of stupidity and violence. We have to be very careful of who we choose to arm or support, because many times in the past we've made the mistake of arming factions that harbor a deep hatred of Americans and our country.

    What's going on there is a shame, but I'm really sick of us spending so much of our money, time and resources on all these totally messed up Middle Eastern countries. We really need to start increasing the safe harvesting, production and distribution of our own natural energy here in the USA, rather than paying for fuel from countries where they hate us. Let’s keep that money and those jobs here in the US.

    The people in the whole Middle East region are just out of their frigging minds in general. Let's start bringing our troops home and start using them to protect our country from the incursion of illegal aliens here at home. If we've got to do anything more in the Middle East, let's limit it to targeted air strikes.

    September 9, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. Reggiedw

    Why did Obama not go into Libya to protect the American citizens who died last year on September 11. Why does he want to get involved in Syria's civil war when he did absoluely nothing to protect the 4 Americans who died in Bengazi. Obama must think he is on the basketball court or on the golf course because he does not know what he is doing when it comes to him being president of the United States of America. If he is the best that American can produce to be president, then we are a real sorry nation.

    September 9, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. cmml

    It makes no sense to get involved in a conflict where we have no strategic interest

    It makes even less sense to kill innocent Syrians as a way to punish the Syrian government for killing innocent Syrians

    September 9, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. McShannon

    A President often completely trusts those advisors that have been close to him as President Bush trusted Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Sometimes those that are close to the President have a political agenda seeking glory to advance their career or just for the attention and spotlight. President Obama has complete trust in John Kerry who in my opinion fits the mold of Donald Rumsfeld, he thinks he could be POTUS. John Kerry's wisdom and judgments are clouded by political desire I have no doubt

    September 9, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. O'drama ya Mama

    The American people should not have a say in something they have limited knowledge on. Most American people cant even find Syria on a map how could they possibly sway a decision like this one? There is plenty of classified information that would probably change peoples decisions if they knew about it but since they dont they should not be the one to sway this decision.

    September 9, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Winston Smith

    Newt, just how irrelevant can you get? Go Away.

    September 9, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    -because wars broke USA to ground level fiscally. On one hand cry in Free loaders nonetheless help needed at Americans despite Tax-Evaders are huge in number, why this War? Let middle east go to dogs. Focus on Green energy, infrastructure, dollar strength, environment, public transport. Education.

    September 9, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. andres

    O'drama ya Mama, if you trust the government you are in the minority and rightly so. The very same systems that are in place were in place when we entered the Iraq and Afghan wars. Both were uneccessary and stu pid. What make you think that it has gotten any better over the last decade. We have a class of companies who profit from war and weild amazing power in Washington. We have our usual war mongers, and we have our politicians trying to cover their bottom ends. With all of that, any intelligence usually gets overridden.

    September 9, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. pat_wobbly

    False Flag attack by Al-Queda Syrian rebels on 'their own people' to get the West to intervene on their behalf because they were losing the ground war. These chemical weapons were looted from Libya and smuggled through Turkey to the rebels after Gaddafi's downfall. There is a leaked email last year by private security firm Britam discussing a future false flag attack which states such an operation has Washington's approval.

    September 9, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |