With public opinion and congressional momentum against him, President Barack Obama is redoubling his sales pitch for targeted military strikes against Syria by taking his case directly to the American people with a speech from the White House Tuesday.
“Ultimately, you listen to your constituents, but you’ve also got to make some decisions about what you believe is right for America,” Obama said during his remarks at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“Our polling operations are pretty good, you know. I tend to have a pretty good sense of what current popular opinion is,” he said. “For the American people who have been through over a decade of war now with enormous sacrifice – and blood and treasure – any hint of further military entanglements in the Middle East are going to be viewed with suspicion.”
Amid tepid support for a strike against the Syrian regime, lawmakers have called on Obama to build support with the public by making such an address.
Obama’s resolution to authorize the use of force passed a vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 10-7, Wednesday. But the president faces a much bigger hurdle in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And things on that front are looking progressively dimmer for the Obama administration.
A majority of House members are now on the record as either against or leaning against authorizing Obama to use military force against Syria, according to the latest whip count from the Washington Post.
As of Friday afternoon, there were 223 members in the “no” or “leaning no” category, more than the 217 that are needed to sink the resolution.
Obama’s argument isn’t swaying lawmakers or the American people. Polls show deepening public aversion to U.S. military actions overseas after more than a decade of American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An unscientific poll launched by AOL Thursday night, reveals sharp opposition among AOL users to launching a military strike. As of Friday afternoon, approximately 75 percent of respondents say the U.S. should avoid war in Syria.
The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll also finds little appetite for military action across the country despite a growing drumbeat in Washington.
Democrats and Republicans alike oppose strikes by double digit margins, and there is deep opposition among every political and demographic group in the survey. Political independents are among the most clearly opposed, with 66 percent saying they are against military action.
“There are real concerns about the efficacy of action and deep fears of U.S. entanglement in Syria,” James Lindsay, a foreign-policy expert and former Clinton administration official, told the Wall Street Journal. “The public has a clear case of intervention fatigue after 12 years of engagement overseas, the longest stretch in U.S. history.”
As WND reported, Americans are slamming members of Congress with thousands of phone calls and emails, urging lawmakers not to approve a military strike on Syria – by a margin of as much as 499 to 1.
A poll posted on the Drudge Report shows 92 percent of respondents disapprove of authorizing military action. The Drudge poll had a massive sample of 3/4 of a million people.
Americans’ support for U.S. military action against the Syrian government is on track to be among the lowest for any intervention Gallup has asked about in the last 20 years.
Bill Clinton won a bare majority of support for his invasion of Haiti in 1994 and for the sustained airstrikes against Serbia in 1999. President Reagan’s surprise attack on a government compound in Tripoli, Libya, in 1986 gained the support of 71 percent of Americans, Gallup found.
Gallup polling found approval for the 1990 Gulf War at 80 percent before it began, while support for the U.S. action in Afghanistan was at 90 percent. Approval for the Iraq invasion in 2003 was 76 percent.
The U.S. and allied air strikes against Libya in 2011, by comparison, garnered just 47 percent support, according to Gallup.
And an NBC News poll last week found barely one-fifth of Americans said military action in Syria would be in the U.S. national interest, and just 27 percent thought a military strike would improve the situation there.
Meanwhile, U.S. men and women in the military are taking to social media to anonymously demand that the Obama administration refrain from sending them to fight in Syria.
Uniformed military members posted photos of themselves on Facebook with paper messages covering their faces, declaring:
- “I didn’t join the Marine Corps to fight for al-Qaida in a Syrian civil war.”
- “I didn’t sign up to kill the poor for the rich. No war in Syria!”
- “Obama, I will not deploy to fight for your al-Qaida rebels in Syria. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!”
- “I didn’t join the Navy to fight for al-Qaida in a Syrian civil war.”
WND’s own unscientific poll now shows Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to military action in Syria by a 78 to 1 ratio.