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Americans Express Skepticism About Syria Strikes

Americans Express Skepticism About Syria Strikesi
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September 05, 2013
Much of the world is watching and waiting to see whether the United States will respond to the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,400 Syrians, including hundreds of children. President Barack Obama and some leading lawmakers are calling for a military strike. But despite the horror, many Americans seem unconvinced that U.S. airstrikes will do much good. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.

Americans Express Skepticism About Syria Strikes

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Much of the world is watching and waiting to see whether the United States will respond to the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,400 Syrians, including hundreds of children.  President Barack Obama and some leading lawmakers are calling for a military strike.  But despite the horror, many Americans seem unconvinced that U.S. airstrikes will do much good.  
 
In Washington, the political wheels have been turning. President Obama has been meeting with lawmakers and sending key Cabinet members to Congress to make the case for a military response.
 
But across much of America, where summer vacations have ended and kids are heading back to school, many people are weary.
 
"We've been in perpetual wars.  It's just one ends, another starts," one man said. 
 
"Strategic military attacks were going to happen in Iraq, and we’re still there 10 years later, and it bankrupted the country," noted another man. "So, why go through that again?"
 
That reluctance to get involved in Syria is clear in the latest polls.
 
A Washington Post / ABC News poll finds 59 percent of Americans oppose U.S. missile strikes on Syria compared to 36 percent in favor.
 
Another poll, by the Pew Research Center, finds 48 percent of Americans opposing strikes with only 29 percent in favor.
 
But what if the U.S. doesn't go it alone and has help from other countries, like Britain or France? 
 
In that case, support for action rises to 46 percent, though more than half of Americans still say "no."
 
And despite the case being made by the president, for lots of people there are still too many ”what ifs”?
 
“Americans need to be sure of outcomes if we are going to become engaged in any kind of war,” explained independent pollster John Zogby.
 
For some in the U.S., taking action is a moral imperative.
  
"I don't think it’s right that we let this madman kill and pillage his country like he's doing," one man told VOA. 
 
Others say it's not that they don't care, but they don't think military strikes will help. 
 
"I’m concerned about it as a response, I doubt it would deter any future attacks," a woman said. 
 
"You know, are we trading one monster for a worse monster?" asked another bystander. 
 
Many Americans are urging their lawmakers to focus on other problems -- like the economy and health care -- which they feel might have a shot - however slim - of getting fixed.
 

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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by: Frank from: Michigan
September 06, 2013 8:35 AM
Let's see if I have this right. We don't want foreign rulers doing in their subjects with chemicals, right? But we don't mind it too much if they bomb, shoot, or bayonet them in the streets. Genocide is fine, just don't use chemicals to carry it out. Do I got it right?


by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
September 05, 2013 4:40 PM
Sadly these polls show how disconnect the US political leaders are from the public. In a democracy, the public opinion is supposed to mean something. In our system of govt. in contrast to our cousins across the Atlantic, our leaders dont have to bow to the public opinion. They continue to live in their own world and choose to ignore the majority wishes. The behavior we see with our politicians is what we expect from Iran, N. Korea and many other middle east kingdoms. If only our leaders have the courage to admit that they are bowing to the public despite their intentions, what a message we, the most powerful nation can send to the world. But, we need a different kind of politicians who thinks about the consequences of their actions long after they are gone rather than their legacy.


by: marc from: Pittsburgh PA
September 05, 2013 8:42 AM
Don't Americans have enough issues here at home? crime rates are higher than ever. Mad teenagers go shoot down entire classroom full of children. None in the senate could do anything about these.

Say we decide to attack Syria. How many more people are we going to kill to teach a lesson? how accurate will American Targets be? Will those kill only Bad guys? And above all, who is paying for those deadly fireworks?


by: Markt
September 05, 2013 8:41 AM
It is out of the hands of the American People, poll us all you want, it will not make a difference. The matter is now in the hands of 535 people who we hired to represent us, it is their decision. Our only hope is that those we elected to serve us in Congress will make the decisions we hope they will make, but, like every politician who ever sat in Congress, they have their own agendas and their own programs to think about first. Sadly, the welfare of those who hired them in the first place, takes second fiddle once they raise their hands and repeat after the judge who swore them into Office.

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