Support among Americans for a military strike against the Assad regime is “on track to be among the lowest” for any US military intervention in recent history, according to a Gallup poll published Friday.
The poll’s findings showed that 51 percent of Americans oppose a strike in Syria, 36% support it and 13% are undecided.
In contrast, when Washington was mulling invading Iraq in 2003, 59% of Americans were in favor of the move, while 37% were against it. Only 4% remained undecided.
When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, a similar poll showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 82% – supported the invasion, while only 14% opposed it.
Even the US involvement in the Gulf War and the Kosovo conflict received more support from the American public than US President Barack Obama’s plan to strike Syria.
In an earlier Gallup poll conducted in May, 68% of Americans expressed their opposition to the possibility of military action “to attempt to end the conflict” if “all economic and diplomatic efforts fail to end the civil war in Syria.”
In that poll, 24% of Americans voiced their support for a strike. The margin has now risen to 36%, presumably because of allegations that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime used sarin gas against the Syrian people.
The earlier poll had asked Americans if they supported a strike to end the ongoing civil war, whereas the September poll focused on a narrower goal, to reduce Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons. This, too, may account for the rise in support.
Data collected by Gallup shows, however, that support for military intervention tends to rise among Americans after the operation has begun, hinting that more of the American public may come to support Obama’s move despite initially disagreeing with it.
In 2003, for example, 76% of Americans said they approved of the invasion of Iraq after it had taken place, compared to 59% who supported it before it began.
Divided along party lines, the data showed that Democrats, at 45%, favored the idea of a strike more than their independent and Republican counterparts, with 34% and 31% saying they were in favor of a strike, respectively.
The poll also showed that 71% of Americans were following news about the Syrian civil war closely now, compared to 48% in June.