Americans, still stung by the misadventure in Iraq and the continued agony of Afghanistan, are solidly against arming the motley crew of rebels who are trying to overthrow the country’s butcher, Bashar al-Assad.
A poll conducted in the U.K. and U.S. for YouGov-Cambridge and reported in today’s Guardian found 46 percent of Americas are against arming the Syrian freedom fighters. A telling figure: 52 percent of Republicans (perhaps a lesson learned from Iraq) don’t want to give guns to the good guys. Only 16 percent of those polled want to weaponize Assad’s enemies.
When it comes to military intervention, America loudly says "no thanks." Forty-two percent are against sending troops to enforce regime change.
Only 16 percent are supportive. The country is even hesitant about sending troops to protect civilians by a 33 percent to 27 percent margin.
Whether he likes it or not, Syria is the responsibility of our newly re-elected president. Does he stand idle with more than 70K Syrians dead so far? At the very least, will the president back a no-fly zone over Syria as advocated by hawks like John McCain of Arizona? You-Gov finds half of Americans support that option.
The only certainty: Obama will need to expend a lot of PR to convince Americans of the need to face up to its moral responsibilities in Syria. He'll also need to convince Syria's wealthy Arab neighbors about their obligations to finance the U.S. intervention, send their own legions into the fray and serve as peacekeepers to allow American troops to quickly exit once Assad is history.
The whole world is watching our president.