On Monday, CNN reported poll results showing that the majority of Americans oppose any U.S. Military intervention in Syria, even if Congress were to approve such action.
These opposition numbers stand alongside results showing that a majority of people surveyed believe that it is “likely but not certain” that the regime of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to kill his own people.
CNN's polling shows several major themes in American public opinion regarding Syria and American military intervention. These same themes have also been evidenced in numerous other polls conducted over the past week by USA Today, CBS News, the New York Times, The Associated Press and others.
First, it is clear that Americans are skeptical of any governmental argument made to get involved in the civil strife of Syria. The people are taking any dispensed intelligence reports regarding the nuances of internal conflict in Syria with a grain of salt.
Although the White House has worked tirelessly to assert that the regime of al-Assad is responsible for chemical weapon use in the Syrian civil conflict, officials have so far been unable to present solid evidence regarding who was responsible for any chemical atrocities in Damascus.
Secondly, even if Americans believed that al-Assad was 100 percent responsible for chemical attacks in his country, they do not see that as a good enough reason to engage U.S. money and military in Syria.
Waves of recent polling show that the majority of Americans do not want to get involved in any semblance of warfare unless America has been attacked or is in imminent danger of being attacked by another country.
In the absence of any imminent-threat evidence connecting America and Syria, proponents of U.S. military intervention have turned to a threat-by-proxy argument, asserting that America and the rest of the world will be generally more dangerous without American action in Syria.
This fear-factor argument has been at the forefront of bipartisan war pleas over the past weeks.
Speaking on Good Morning America late last month, Secretary of State John Kerry made his case for the White House, suggesting that other governments and military groups hostile to America could be emboldened by a lack of U.S. action to punish Syria's ruling parties.
“Will they remember that the Assad regime was stopped from those weapons' current or future use, or will they remember that the world stood aside and created impunity?” Kerry said.
On the Republican side, Arizona Senator John McCain told Fox News that his war weary constituents would have to be convinced by the government that military action in Syria was really about the larger picture of the nuclear capabilities of American enemies.
“But this is really about Iran, and their continued development of nuclear weapons,” McCain said. “And if we stand by and watch the chemical weapons being used, what signal do you think that sends to Iran and North Korea and other countries that want to develop weapons of mass destruction?”
And while there has certainly been a concerted effort by war hawks on both sides of the aisle to convince America that action in Syria is necessary, the polls have made it evident that the public’s opposition to war moves in the Middle East also crosses party lines.
A recent survey conducted by The Associated Press indicates that 73 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats believe Congress should vote against a plan to strike Syria.
Most Americans are calloused to official government war chatter after being led into Iraq with vague intelligence reports detailing weapons of mass destruction that were always whisked away moments before America or the United Nations could find them. They are also well aware that there is really no such thing as “limited” military engagement, especially in the Middle East.
John Kerry, John McCain and others might try to convince the American people that they need to be told what is good for them regarding Syria, but the polls have shown unequivocally that the American people are not buying political arguments for war this year.