62% in CBS/NYT poll: Stay out of Syria

posted at 12:01 pm on April 30, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

On this point, the CBS/NY Times poll shows a rare cross-partisan consensus, too, although it dims considerably with people paying closer attention to the conflict in Syria.  Despite all the talk of chemical weapons and red lines, only 24% of Americans overall think the US has a responsibility to take action — up from last month’s 20%, but not outside the margin of error.  On the other hand, 62% reject the idea that the US has a responsibility to get involved:

Sixty-two percent of Americans continue to say the United States does not have a responsibility to intervene in the fighting in Syria, while 24 percent of Americans think the United States does have a responsibility to do something about the fighting between government forces and anti-government groups there – a four point increase since last month.

Most Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree that the U.S. does not have a responsibility to get involved in the conflict in Syria.

Even as news of the possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government was announced by the Obama Administration, fewer Americans are paying attention to news about Syria than were doing so last month. In March, slightly more than half of all Americans were following news about Syria at least somewhat closely. Now, four in 10 say they are doing so, including just 10 percent who are following it very closely.

Still, those following the news about Syria very closely are far more likely to think the U.S. has a responsibility to get involved there. Nearly half (47 percent) of that group thinks the U.S. has a responsibility to get involved there — though about as many do not (48 percent).

This latter demo feels a lot like self-selection bias.  People inclined to want the US to intervene will be more likely to pay closer attention to developments in Syria.  Even at that, it’s an even split.  And that group has dropped by 15 points, according to the NYT’s analysis of the data.

Doug Bandow endorses the majority position at Forbes:

The Syrian civil war lurches on, adding new casualties every day.  The campaign to push the U.S. into the Syrian civil war also marches on, threatening to add American casualties to the human toll.  Possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is another reason to stay out, not to get in.

Washington’s foreign policy should be one of peace.  There are tragic times when war becomes necessary, but thankfully not often.  Especially for America, which enjoys a privileged international position. …

Syria stands out as a conflagration in which the U.S. should play no role.  There is no threat to America.  President Bashar al-Assad is evil, not stupid.  He wouldn’t attack the U.S. or an allied government, such as Israel, before; he certainly wouldn’t do so now with his regime under siege.

Damascus may have facilitated attacks on U.S. forces during Washington’s occupation of Iraq, but it’s late to use that as a casus belli.  Moreover, Americans should pause before treating such action as a cause for war:  today the U.S. is actively aiding Syria’s rebels and during the Cold War Washington armed insurgents against the Soviet Union and its Afghan ally, as well as Nicaragua.  America may well do the same again in the future against other nations viewed as hostile.

Syria is a civil war, not genocide.  The killings are awful, but that is what happens in low-tech conflicts.  Two sides, with the military balance steadily equalizing, are battling for control of the country.  Such a struggle is unlikely to have a good outcome, whoever prevails.

That’s my argument today in The Week, as well.  Which side would we pick for the winner?  Neither, which is one good reason why we should stay well out of the war, among others:

Apparently, no one has learned any lessons from what happened in Lebanon in the early 1980s, Afghanistan in the late 1980s, or in Libya over the last two years. In all three cases, lightweight American/Western intervention emboldened Islamist terror networks, unleashing waves of radicalization that undermined or toppled nearby nations, and made the region less safe as a result. The Lebanon intervention resulted in a Hezbollah attack that killed more than 240 Marines and convinced Ronald Reagan to retreat, emboldening Hezbollah and other Islamist terrorist groups. One could argue that the result in Afghanistan — the humiliation and eventual collapse of the Soviet Union — still made the effort worthwhile, even if it did produce Taliban control and a string of successful al Qaeda attacks against American interests, including 9/11. It also resulted in our 11-year war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history and longer than the Soviet intervention that necessitated it.

There is no corresponding good argument from our Libyan adventure. The U.S.-initiated NATO intervention quickly escalated from a “right to protection” argument regarding the population of Benghazi to an undeclared war against Moammar Gadhafi. The quick decapitation of that regime did not result in a unified Libya with an enlightened self-government, but in a failed state controlled in some places by the type of Islamist terror networks we have been fighting for more than a decade. Those networks, freed from the oppression of Gadhafi, quickly organized into an insurgency in neighboring Mali, which only narrowly missed seizing control of the north African nation when foiled by a French military intervention. …

An intervention of any scale in Syria would produce another Libya, or worse. At least in Libya, there were secular groups in the mix, mainly in Tripoli, even if they ended up without much power. In Syria, there are no good options. The New York Times reported over the weekend that the opposition is so dominated by Islamist militias that “nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.”

In fact, there is a plethora of sectarian fighting forces, and they’re not all on the same side, either. Hezbollah has entered the civil war on behalf of Assad, which pits the Iranian and Syrian establishments and their Shi’ite extremists against grassroots Sunni extremists. In no way is that a fight that should interest Americans; rather, we should be taking great care not to get entangled in it at all.

This is one civil war that should remain a localized civil war.  Let’s sit this one out.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I’m surprised its not higher. We should not go into Syria under ANY circumstances…short of the US coming in danger.

nonpartisan on April 30, 2013 at 12:03 PM

64% oppose US intervention in Syria?

Barry, “Its settled then, we’re goin’ in!”

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

This decision making stuff is hard. “Valerie? Valerie? Would you come in here, please?”

a capella on April 30, 2013 at 12:05 PM

But they crossed the red line… And Obama promised assistance if they did…

Skywise on April 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM

well it’s a good thing the President doesn’t need congressional approval to wage war then huh?

equanimous on April 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM

ok, hawkeye, we get it…

nonpartisan on April 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM

WTF is with all the repeat posts?

MelonCollie on April 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM

ok, hawkeye, we get it…

nonpartisan on April 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Not his fault — we had a database glitch. Our fault.

Ed Morrissey on April 30, 2013 at 12:09 PM

64% oppose US intervention in Syria?

Barry, “Its settled then, we’re goin’ in!”

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Hair Trigger.

VegasRick on April 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

So are we going in or what?

HumpBot Salvation on April 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM

database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…database gli…

equanimous on April 30, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Ok, better now.

Hey leftists – when do we get antiwar protests? Oh, that’s right, those would be RAAACIST because your boy-king was ‘elected’ to be ‘in charge’.

MelonCollie on April 30, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Not his fault — we had a database glitch. Our fault.

Ed Morrissey on April 30, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Phew! And I was wondering how that hiccup happened!

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Stay O.U.T. of Syria, especially with Obama in charge.

No American life is worth expending saving a Muslim one. Let them fight it out until they’re either all dead or exhausted.

If the Islamists win, give them a simple warning. Any attacks on the US results in the nuking of a Muslim city starting with the letter A and working down the alphabet. That way each Muslim country has incentive to protect us from attacks from another.

If Saudis attack us, nuke Aleppo.
If Iranians attack us, nuke Baghdad.
Then Cairo, Damascus, on down until they’re all dead or stop attacking us.

Charlemagne on April 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Pinball Keyboard Wizzard.

antipc on April 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

hawkeye54

Somebody put a nickel on the needle!!

I’m having a hard time picking which side is the “good guys” here. When I see reports of European jihadis going to Syria to fight the good fight, I don’t really see any downside to letting them have at it.

jdpaz on April 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Phew! And I was wondering how that hiccup happened!

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

We should still call that “pulling a hawkeye,” though … ;-)

Ed Morrissey on April 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

So are we going in or what?

HumpBot Salvation on April 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM

I’d almost bet money on that. I don’t see how Barry can keep out of it.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

“No boots on the ground” time, again?

kingsjester on April 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

I’m having a hard time picking which side is the “good guys” here.

When it comes to the warring factions, there are none, from the perspective of our national interests anyway.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:15 PM

I’m with the 24%. I mean Libya worked out so well: I say we partner with AQ-affiliated Islamists again. What could go wrong?

batter on April 30, 2013 at 12:15 PM

John McCain hardest hit.

bannor on April 30, 2013 at 12:15 PM

We should still call that “pulling a hawkeye,” though … ;-)

I like it! My 15 minutes of fame!! :)

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Ed Morrissey on April 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Ha!
hawkeye54 – under the bus driven by Ed.

…actually it’s worse than that – Ed drives a scooter.

batter on April 30, 2013 at 12:18 PM

64% oppose US intervention in Syria?

Barry, “Its settled then, we’re goin’ in!”

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Exactly what I was thinking, along with, “They think they still have a say? Looks like I’ll have to show them who’s boss — again!”

Liam on April 30, 2013 at 12:20 PM

This is one civil war that should remain a localized civil war. Let’s sit this one out.

We can always send Lindsey Graham and his sweetheart Juan McCain.

celticdefender on April 30, 2013 at 12:20 PM

actually it’s worse than that – Ed drives a scooter.

Does he wear a bow tie too? Somehow scooters and bow ties just seem to go together.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:20 PM

If the Islamists win, give them a simple warning. Any attacks on the US results in the nuking of a Muslim city starting with the letter A and working down the alphabet. That way each Muslim country has incentive to protect us from attacks from another.

If Saudis attack us, nuke Aleppo.
If Iranians attack us, nuke Baghdad.
Then Cairo, Damascus, on down until they’re all dead or stop attacking us.

Charlemagne on April 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

I like the way you think, Charley!

Even they’re smart enough to get that ‘equation’.

MelonCollie on April 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM

I’m with the 24%. I mean Libya worked out so well: I say we partner with AQ-affiliated Islamists again. What could go wrong?

I think Barry has some of our military surplus he can sell to the rebels, at very reasonable prices too.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM

If Saudis attack us, nuke Aleppo.
If Iranians attack us, nuke Baghdad.
Then Cairo, Damascus, on down until they’re all dead or stop attacking us.

They are a very determined lot….we might have to go on nuking them all the way to Dearborn.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Picture this: Ed. Bow tie. Wearing nothing else. Driving over you.

(no, I will not pay your therapy bills)

batter on April 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM

I’m surprised its not higher. We should not go into Syria under ANY circumstances…short of the US coming in danger.

nonpartisan on April 30, 2013 at 12:03 PM

.
The criteria for “go / don’t go” will be based on whether it helps the ‘One World Government’ movement, or not.

If it helps the cause of One World Government for us to go, then that’s what the decision will be. What the American people think about it be damned.

listens2glenn on April 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM

…and then they can become a regional threat. Just like the Libya/Mali model. Aaah, perfection.

batter on April 30, 2013 at 12:27 PM

In all three cases, lightweight American/Western intervention emboldened Islamist terror networks, unleashing waves of radicalization that undermined or toppled nearby nations, and made the region less safe as a result.

If Obama’s recent history is any guide, these are precisely Obama’s objectives.

Fenris on April 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM

For once, I agree with the New York Times–we have no business in Syria.

Various leftists have argued that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake, but at the time, Saddam was a threat to our allies in the region, notably Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Obama made a name for himself by his speech at the 2004 DNC decrying the Iraq war, then he brought us into Libya to help oust Khadafi, but bungled the “peace” by enabling hard-line jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood to come to power.

Assad in Syria is a fellow Baathist like Saddam Hussein, and doesn’t deserve our support, but there are no better alternatives–we don’t really have any friends in Syria, and lots of enemies there. If our enemies are killing each other, we don’t have to fight them.

About the only possible benefit from the Syrian conflict would be that if Assad’s army is preoccupied on its own turf, it could be an opportunity to liberate Lebanon. If we had a smart President and State Department, now would be a good time to depose a UN resolution telling Syria to get out of Lebanon “or else”, and Israel and France would probably do the dirty work.

But with Obama and Kerry at the helm, we’re a rudderless ship…

Steve Z on April 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Hey Hagel all ya gotta do is make sure those who go in are all muslims.

jake49 on April 30, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Charlemagne on April 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Great idea, but since ‘mulslim’ starts with an ‘m’, I suggest starting with Mecca.

Fenris on April 30, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Picture this: Ed. Bow tie. Wearing nothing else. Driving over you.

(no, I will not pay your therapy bills)

batter on April 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Hah! I remember watching “Monty Python” with the occasional clip of one of its members playing the piano whilst naked. Can’t possibly be worse than that. :)

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Make a trade with Assad: give him conventional arms in exchange for his WMDs.

Then give more arms to the rebels.

And then make more popcorn.

rbj on April 30, 2013 at 12:34 PM

For once, I agree with the New York Times–we have no business in Syria.

Steve Z on April 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM

I see the reverse: The NYT agrees with us. Very rare, but I imagine their people know more about the matter than their precious Obama. If they were as ignorant about the world as is Dear Leader, I’m certain they’d be calling for immediate intervention.

Liam on April 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Great idea, but since ‘mulslim’ starts with an ‘m’, I suggest starting with Mecca.

If that doesn’t get ‘em all riled up world wide nothing will. Create a vast target rich environment though with all the outraged muslims rioting in the streets.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Hey leftists – when do we get antiwar protests? Oh, that’s right, those would be RAAACIST because your boy-king was ‘elected’ to be ‘in charge’.

It could be that. It could also be that antiwar protesters tend to be motivated by, you know, war, and right now nobody’s talking seriously about going to war in Syria. But I appreciate the strawman.

YYZ on April 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Good.

Stay out of that part of the world – too many of our young men and women have perished to try and bring civilization to those effing barbarians.

Defenestratus on April 30, 2013 at 12:37 PM

A Civil War ?
How can that be ?
Muslims dont kill Musl… Oh, never mind. It’s the religion of peace we’re talking about.

Make no mistake. This will become a proxy war between SA and Iran. Or rather Sunni vs. Shia, respectfully. Been fighting for over 1,000 years with only occasional breaks to address the infidels.

Jabberwock on April 30, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Any News if the WMD’s used by Syria have “Made in Iraq” on them?

dirtseller on April 30, 2013 at 12:37 PM

If they were as ignorant about the world as is Dear Leader,

Dear Leader is not just ignorant about the world as he sees it, but misled. His entire life. He’s the perfect Manchurian President.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:38 PM

The USA’s only action should be to cantain these fools within their borders.

As many of these nutjobs that kill each other the better.

Tater Salad on April 30, 2013 at 12:40 PM

If that doesn’t get ‘em all riled up world wide nothing will. Create a vast target rich environment though with all the outraged muslims rioting in the streets.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Never let a crisis go to waste. I was just afraid that Mecca was so many letters away from Aleppo that the opportunity would be lost.

Fenris on April 30, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Send in the Muslim Brotherhood!!!

albill on April 30, 2013 at 12:44 PM

As many of these nutjobs that kill each other the better.

And we have no compelling reason, as a nation, to get involved in a local squabble far away from us.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 12:44 PM

62% in CBS/NYT poll: Stay out of Syria

It should be 100%.

#neoconfail

#nocaliphate

#democratwarmongering

PappyD61 on April 30, 2013 at 12:57 PM

The last thing Obama needs to do is listen to McCain. This guy wants to get involved in every conflict that pops up.

Tasha on April 30, 2013 at 1:01 PM

This is one civil war that should remain a localized civil war. Let’s sit this one out.

Good idea. I’d say let’s supply them guns (Oh, yeah, forgot we did that from Libya) and let them duke it out to the last survivor. We should have stayed out of those other localized civil wars (Bosnia, Egypt, Libya) too. As it turns out, helping the Muslims fight these civil wars doesn’t encourage them to like us very much anyway.

TulsAmerican on April 30, 2013 at 1:10 PM

The last thing Obama needs to do is listen to McCain.

Meh, he’ll only listen to McCain if John parrots what Obama already has in mind, then he can boast of a “bipartisan” effort on any action taken, and have the proverbial person to throw under the bus and blame when things don’t go as planned.

hawkeye54 on April 30, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Hezbollah & Iranian Shia

vs.

Al Qaeda & Sunni Arab Jihadist

For control of Syria??

This is like a wonderful dream that I hope never ends. I hope they fight over that useless piece of land forever.

William Eaton on April 30, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Also the sad thing is Assad and the Iranians actually treat Christians (and even Jews) better than the Sunni Jihadist “Freedom Fighters” John McCain wants to help. That is how bigoted and insane the Syrian opposition to Assad is.

William Eaton on April 30, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Not his fault — we had a database glitch. Our fault.

Ed Morrissey on April 30, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Riiiiiight. Look, I know the truth because I watch TV. The next time you update the matrix, get me a blonde in a red dress. I deserve it. I’m value-added.

Axe on April 30, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Wow. Speaking of blondes in red dresses:

If a country can’t protect our embassy, the answer is to close the embassy. If a country takes $1 billion of our dollars, and then returns the favor by indicting our citizens for religious “crimes”, then stop giving them money . . . Our foreign policy towards the Muslim world should simply be this: leave us the f*** alone, if you don’t we will utterly annihilate you. We will not invade. We will not depose. We will not nation build. We will destroy.

That’s a pretty clear sentiment, but this is what makes it special:

And if after being destroyed you choose to f*** with us again, we will destroy you again. Until either you stop f******* with us or you are all dead.

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/09/so-long-muslim-world-and-thanks-for-all.html

lol — Some of you guys have a terrible time expressing your feelings. Just let it out. Say what you really think. Stop mincing words. :)

Axe on April 30, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Axe – I refer to this as the ‘Curtis LeMay foreign policy’, of which I’ve more or less been an adherent most of my adult life.

JEM on April 30, 2013 at 3:06 PM

JEM on April 30, 2013 at 3:06 PM

It’s very appealing. :)

Sort of an international laissez-faire attitude with a touch of “I will hit you back, you know.” It’s not isolationist. It just presupposes the business of a national government is primarily that nation’s business, independently.

Kind of like sitting at a picnic table and being much more interested in your own barbequed chicken then what Bob’s eating. Bob’s only an issue when he messes with your plate, or maybe tries to make a run at the smoker. It might be necessary to beat the hell out of Bob from time to time, but that’s not why anyone’s at the lake.

I get it.

. . . and come on, summer.

Axe on April 30, 2013 at 3:34 PM

WE HAVE NO FRIENDS IN SYRIA!

Not. A. One.

mojo on April 30, 2013 at 3:50 PM

There are only 2 viable sides in Syria: Islamists and a corrupt and hostile dictatorship. There is nothing to gain by going in. Americans should concentrate upon restoring responsible government to America.

Basilsbest on April 30, 2013 at 4:44 PM