Gallup: Majority Opposes Military Strike

Friday, 06 Sep 2013 03:12 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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More than half of Americans oppose the United States government using military action to reduce Syria's ability to use chemical weapons, a new Gallup poll reveals.

According to a random survey taken on Aug. 3-4 of 1,021 adults, 51 percent of those responding oppose a military strike on Syria, Gallup reports. A further 13 percent are not sure.

Just 36 percent support military action against President Bashar Assad, the poll shows. That number show Americans' support among the lowest for any military intervention that Gallup has asked about in the last 20 years. However, the poll numbers show the numbers coming closer than in May, when Gallup asked people if they oppose military action "to attempt to end the conflict" if "all economic and diplomatic efforts to fail end the civil war in Syria." At that time, Americans opposed strikes by a 68 to 24 percent margin.

Support may have gone up because of reports that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime used chemical weapons on men, women, and children in Damascus, resulting in more than 1,400 casualties.

In addition, the current question narrows the goal further than the question in May, Gallup said.

Among other recent conflicts, support was highest for intervening in Afghanistan and lowest for heading to Kosovo in 1999, which some analysts compare to the Syrian situation.

Support may climb, though, if the U.S. uses military force, said Gallup, through what is known as a "rally effect." For example, Americans' support of intervention in 1999 in Kosovo and the Balkans, along with the 2003 Iraq war, grew after military strikes started.

Congressional authorization may also boost support for action in Syria, history shows. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, both shortly after the Sept.11, 2001 attacks, had high support and military backing, even though now many Americans consider the conflicts as mistakes.

Conflict in Syria is also being considered on a partisan basis, the report shows. Democrats are divided on whether to intervene, while a strong majority of Republicans oppose President Barack Obama's plans for limited military strike. The numbers are markedly different than for the war in Iraq, which Republicans supported — and which were backed by GOP President George W. Bush.

The poll also revealed that Americans are trying to be well-informed about Syria, with 71 percent saying they are following news about the civil war either closely or somewhat closely, compared to 48 percent in June.

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