Conflict & Justice

Poll: Syria is not our problem, most Americans say


Protesters in June demonstrate against the Syrian regime in front of CNN offices in Los Angeles.


Kevork Djansezian

Majorities of Americans now oppose using the US military or arming rebels in order to stop the bloodshed in Syria, according to a new poll released by Pew.

Majorities of Americans also support removing US troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible, according the survey, which was conducted among 1,503 respondents surveyed between March 7 and March 11.

But a majority also said they were more worried that the US would wait to long to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons than that it would act too hastily.

Still, in a sign that the public’s mood may shift, subject to prosperity, suggestion and campaigning by activists, Pew cited earlier polls according to which the public had appeared divided on whether the US had a responsibility to intervene in places like Darfur or Kosovo.

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According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, nearly two thirds, or 64 percent, say the US has no responsibility to prevent the bloodshed in Syria and similar shares of the public oppose options such as bombing Syrian regime forces to prevent atrocities or arming the rebels. (A year ago, the survey found that 63 percent opposed similar US actions that were ultimately taken in Libya.)

Nevertheless, 54 percent of respondents said they were more concerned the US would wait too long to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons while only 34 percent said they were afraid the US would act precipitously.

Internally, these numbers showed what Pew called a “sharp partisan divide,” with 75 percent of Republicans fearing the US would wait to wait too long (the number rose to 81 percent among those identifying themselves as “conservative” Republicans) while only 42 percent of Democrats said they shared this concern.

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With reporting from The Associated Press, CBS said today that former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan — the current special envoy on the Syrian crisis who has himself cautioned against hasty intervention — has decided to send a mission to Damascus to discuss monitoring a ceasefire.

He reported warned today of "a serious impact for the entire region if it's not handled properly."