Obama’s Middle East ‘Oh! Mama!’ Moment

New poll: Syria intervention even less popular than Congress


A Syrian woman stands amid the ruins of her house, which was destroyed in an airstrike by government warplanes a few days earlier. (AP Photo/Abdullah al-Yassin, File)

A Syrian woman stands amid the ruins of her house, which was destroyed in an airstrike by government warplanes a few days earlier. (AP Photo/Abdullah al-Yassin, File)

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll has finally found something that Americans like even less than Congress: the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Syria. Only 9 percent of respondents said that the Obama administration should intervene militarily in Syria; a RealClearPolitics poll average finds Congress has a 15 percent approval rating, making the country’s most hated political body almost twice as popular.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was taken Aug.19-23, the very same week that horrific reports emerged strongly suggesting that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people, potentially killing hundreds or even thousands of civilians. If there were ever a time that Americans would support some sort of action, you’d think this would be it. But this is the lowest support for intervention since the poll began tracking opinion on the issue. The survey also found that 60 percent oppose intervention outright, with the rest, perhaps sagely, saying that they don’t know.

Strangely, 25 percent said that they support intervention if Assad uses chemical weapons. I say strangely because the United States announced way back in June that it believed Assad had done exactly this. A large share of people who answered that the United States should intervene if Assad uses chemical weapons are apparently unaware that this line has already been crossed. Presumably, some number of these people would drop their support if they realized the question was no longer hypothetical.

The United States certainly appears to be considering limited strikes on Syria in response to last week’s suspected chemical weapons attack. The calculus for and against is complicated enough in foreign policy terms. But the White House is also a political institution, and it will surely keep the domestic politics, which appear to oppose any intervention very strongly, well in mind.

More from WorldViews on Syria:

The Middle East, explained in one (sort of terrifying) chart

The one video from Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack that everyone should watch

The U.S. does have nonmilitary options in Syria. Here are four of them.

Max Fisher
Max Fisher is the Post’s foreign affairs blogger. He has a master’s degree in security studies from Johns Hopkins University. Sign up for his daily newsletter here. Also, follow him on Twitter or Facebook.




Libris Fidelis
I think this shows what Russia’s real intent on this is — pure evil. The Soviet mafia has taken over Russia and although I am grateful for Russia protecting Edward Snowden, the support for the Syrian genocidal tyranny of Assad by Russia is intolerable. Putin is, after all, from the KGB, he was a colonel intelligence officer, so he would harbor the Soviet mentality as thousands of innocent Syrian civilians are murdered, raped, and starved by Assad’s political-mafia regime. The world ignoring this atrocity is exactly like what went on in Rwanda !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But any action taken in Syria MUST be as a United Nations humanitarian police action. Assad is worse than a criminal — he is another Adolf Hitler !!!!
Americans are generally tired of the Middle East. All we ever hear from there is bad and depressing news. It is a real buzz-kill…
Libris Fidelis
6:50 AM EST
There IS NO such thing as an American flag or American citizenship… and our USA is NOT America. America is NOT a country! And EVERY country in America has their own flag!

“America is a VERTICAL HEMISPHERE named for Amerigo Vespucci (the first navigator to accurately draw a map of this vertical hemisphere), and America was so-named in his honor almost 300 years BEFORE our country was created. Our country of THE United States –OF– America is NOT what this hemisphere was named after… we were named THE United States –OF– America almost 300 years after this vertical hemisphere was named America because we were the ONLY united union of political organizations in the colony-realms of America, and that we as the USA were originally considered an amalgamation of “confederated independent states”, until we became a SINGLE FEDERATION of former-state organizations when we became joined together as one STATE called THE United States –OF– America… and a STATE is a nation, but today we still incorrectly call our sub-political federated units “states”. — Ronald Kinum 2005″

“”American” does not mean a natizen of our USA… our prejudices have wrongly adopted that unjust mentality. – Libris Fidelis August 12,2013″

when was last time the American public swayed a government hell bent on going to war? For that matter, the entire world was united against air-strikes in Bosnia Herzegovina and it didn’t matter a tittle. Governments want war. They thrive on war so all that money can go to corporations they have interest in so it will never get to people who need it and drive profit up, up, up. All this moral outrage – pshaw!. We weren’t the least bit morally outraged during Iran-Iraq war . I read we even supplied vital intelligence to our friend Saddam so he could gas the Iranians with precision. Moral outrage is a term long since demoted to define the likes of Miley Cyrus. .
Since most Americans probably think Syria is something they pour milk on and eat for breakfast, I can’t help but wonder how the respondents for this poll were selected.
I really “don’t get why all these people are thinking that this situation is comparable to World War 2 at all”…This isn’t our business. No matter what side we are on, in this..we are giving aid and support to an enemy, either in the past or in the future..and just because a bunch of French and British Generals and Politicians want to “jump in the middle of this” does NOT mean this is like World War 2 at all. this is am “Internal matter within Syria that the rest of the world needs to stay out of”…period.
We STILL think we’re the world’s police man.
While THIS country crumbles.
Is there any more proof than this that DC is oblivious to the majority of the American people?
8/27/2013 9:59 PM EST
They just don’t care what we say or what we want.
We don’t even prosecute war criminals in the U.S., and now we are going to bomb Syria?
Donn Wallace
8/27/2013 7:49 PM EST
The “war criminals in the U.S.” line is getting pretty tired.

Obama appears to be following the Bush model in foreign policy; so, by your reasoning, Obama is a war criminal as well?

The U.S. has not stated what the strategic or national interests are in Syria. Nor has the U.S. provided any details for the objectives of military intervention or “legal” justification for taking action. So it would appear to be another cowboy adventure on the part of President Obama — the Commander in Chief for the U.S. military. But in the context of a federal budget, a debt limit, and sequestration, you have to ask how would congress pay for such a expensive military operation? That is, apart from the moral questions and the legal questions, where does the money come from for bombs, missiles and jet fuel?
Stephen Wise
8/27/2013 8:59 PM EST
Well said, Richard. In war we need proper procedures and an informed public and congress. We can have none of these without knowing what you mention here. The value of going to war must be weighed against other spending priorities, and all the ramifications.
Michael James Allison
8/27/2013 9:44 PM EST
Where does the money come from. The middle class tax paying Americans. SOS different prez.
War is hell. We have been recently conditioned to believe somehow that there is such a thing as a “clean “war, soldier against soldier all Marquis of Queensbury rules and such. What a war really is is one people against another, there is no such thing as innocent civilians. That is a fabrication. We used to know this, but now we don’t . When we firebombed Dresden, nuked Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and when the enemy blitzed London, we knew this. There can be no war without “civilian” support. “Civilians” grow food for the army, they produce little children who grow up to be soldiers, they work in the factories producing bullets and guns, they provide political and religious and monetary support for their leaders and so on. Sure lots of great battles are fought soldier to soldier, but a war isn’t over till the people themselves concede defeat.
The west no longer has the will to require abject surrender of the populous, and so we cause our next problem by hoping to win the hearts and minds of our enemies. We used to not care and simply imposed our will on the Germans and the Japanese and they are better off and peace has lasted for generations now.
Syria has no national interest for us, other than as wag the dog taking our focus off our own governments that ARE requiring citizens abject surrender.
If you weep for the dead Syrians you need to take a close look at the brutality of the rest of the ongoing civil wars in the Congo, Somalia, Libya and so on.
The west used to make cultural moral judgements, the British Empire got a bum rap. Where they touched is better off than the rest of the world today, because when they conquered a people they rightly judged barbarianism as such and did their best to eradicate it. Weakened western values now are afraid to say boo to barbaric cultures because we have some romanticized idea of their barbarism being compatible with the modern world.
Either destroy Islam, save its people, or learn to live with their internecine barbarity.
The Administration would do well to heed this. If we are going to do it just because our President shot his mouth off, the public is not buying it. As this day goes on and just about everyone is speaking out on it, any action will carry a sense of grotesque futility along with it.
8/27/2013 5:50 PM EST
you sound a little too much like nevil chamberlaine
8/27/2013 6:49 PM EST
Hitler was conquering Europe and looking toward world domination. I think Assad’s just trying to survive.

(Not that I’m rooting for him to, just pointing out a kinda essential difference)

Donn Wallace
8/27/2013 7:52 PM EST
The name is “Neville Chamberlain”, and I don’t see the analogy here.
Its good to see that the majority of Americans have more common sense than our war hungry politicians.

We should keep well away from this conflict. Every time we interfere in the Middle East we leave the country in a bigger mess than we started and are hated by the local population.

When my sons in the armed forces are risking their lives I want to know its to protect fellow Americans, not to fight over oil on the other side of the world for our greedy politicians.

Richie Hawkins
Stop the Madness now
We’re tired of war….GD tired of it! Between wars and bail outs of the fat cat banksters and wall street dandies our money has dwindled and now its down to chipping away at entitlements and programs for the poor. This is NOT the America I know and love…this is an America of professional warmongering to the benefit of the elite war contractors! We pretty much know it and see it and we’ve had enough of it! Let’s not continue to be the suckers in this….its time we all wised up! These Syrians have no use for us…for once let OUR voices be heard and not the big wigs in Congress and the white house!
8/27/2013 4:24 PM EST
you make a plausible argument, now just imagine, in your mind, a world where America has retreated behind its shores and the rest of the planet is going about its business in manners that speak to their own best interests and we have made ourselves un-involved in any of those decisions, we are just wafting around based on which ever way china or Russia or the islamists want to determine world affairs (including trade and imports of oil and other vital national items)
now how does that work out for you, feel real safe behind our coasts.. an ocean on either side of our shores used to be a good defense, not so any more.
are you ready to just accept what the rest of the world sends our way and deal with it in silence because that is the world you are wishing for
8/27/2013 4:35 PM EST
I’m 72 years old…do you know how many times I’ve heard your argument? We have sapped this country almost dry with two useless wars and banks and wall street running roughshod over us….picking our pockets! Then they want to hack away at “entitlements” benefits workers paid into and expect to be there when they retire. I’ve heard your excuse so many times it makes me nauseous. We need to clean up our own house…we need to shore up America and bring our economy back to life! I’m sick of war and I’m sick of the profiteering and I’m certainly sick of our politicians pandering to the one percent!

So…no, I’m not ready to be the policemen of the world….and I’m not ready to swallow that weak excuse!

8/27/2013 5:13 PM EST
Good for you, Patricia. I am 76 and have been listening to this kind of foolish argument again and again all of my life.
8/27/2013 5:41 PM EST
I am 62 and I know that your generation was not willing to even support FDR in his efforts to provide Britain with aid and did not feel that hitler was our problem, so your ideology on this matter is just a little jaded. if it hadn’t been for pearl harbor just how far would you have allowed hitler to go before it became something we would have involved ourselves in?
8/27/2013 6:40 PM EST
I’m 51 and know anyone who would have serve in World War II is now dead or 85+ years old.

There is a difference between being isolationist and tending to your own problems first. Neville Chamberlain came back and said “Peace in our time” and a few months later Hitler invaded the Sudetenlands – and NO ONE did anything. There was no civil war in Germany. Germans were mainly united in following whatever lead “Der Fuhrer” set.

The Syrians are engaged in a Civil War — not a crusade to take over other countries. How would citizens of the United States react if we were having a Civil War and some other country who didn’t like it decided to intervene by bombing us or our weapons stashes?

The war in Syria is horrific and inhumane but it is none of our business. Much more our business is to stop Iran from getting nuclear capabilities but instead we will march on because our only policy for the last 60 years has been interventionist policy. Where has it gotten us besides broke . . .

8/27/2013 7:00 PM EST
You’re right. It’s none of our business. Neither are the two million Syrian refugees nor the 100,000 dead. Not the millions starving in Africa or the thousands shot every year in our streets. Or the 40,000 killed in our traffic accidents, or our own children going hungry every day. None of it is our business. Let’s just lock ourselves behind our doors and the hell with the rest of the world.
8/27/2013 8:17 PM EST
dialogue72 – there is a big difference between “our own children going hungry” and the ethnic and religious warring in Syria and other sections of the middle east. In my opinion, the problem with our government is that they don’t understand priorities: our children first; making our streets safe from gangs and other smucks second; then, charity to the world’s hungry with money we have to spare. It is also necessary to keep our military strong to protect ourselves, but NOT policing the world at the whim of politicians or generals.
8/27/2013 8:30 PM EST
I think we shoulds solve our own terrible problems here at home>> like..the NSA..IRS..you know stuff like this……Yes Obama I am still watching how your going to solve these scandals….
By the way how are you an BUSH getting alone lately?
8/27/2013 8:36 PM EST
How’s those DRONE attacks coming alone MR OBAMA?
8/27/2013 10:01 PM EST
Wrong. The people shot in our streets are our business as are children going hungry in our own country. ICYMI, we don’t grow much of our own food in this country any longer because our liberal caretakers think it’s better to enrich the rest of the world and to use our corn to make gasoline.
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