Uploaded on September 18, 2012 by GlobalCrisisNews Powered by YouTube
At yesterday's foreign policy discussion, some of the leading voices within the GOP said they supported US military intervention in Syria. At the same time, however, America's political elite is deciding on the behalf of the whole country's population to wage another war which now seems inevitable, To discuss US Foreign policy in Syria RT's Liz Wahl joins Cole Bockenfield of the Project on Middle East Democracy.
As violence escalates in Syria, so do Republican attacks of the Obama administration's alleged passivity. No doubt we'll hear more such critiques this week from the podium in Tampa, where the GOP gathers to nominate Mitt Romney. Such hawkish views may resonate with the U.S. public—but only to a point. As recent polling data makes clear, Americans are appalled by the depradations of the Assad regime and seek its removal from power. They support a variety of robust multilateral measures, including the imposition of tougher international sanctions, and the creation of safe havens to protect civilians. But they are not prepared to dispatch U.S. troops to protect Syrian civilians, even as part of a broader coalition, much less to depose the regime. In addition, Americans support a no-fly zone in theory, though oppose bombing air defenses—a necessary component of establishing a no-fly zone. Indeed, Americans remain divided even when it comes to providing arms to rebels.
Americans are clearly worried about Syria's crisis. Responding to a CNN poll earlier this month, over 70 percent declared themselves (very or somewhat) "concerned," and nearly two-thirds defined "the removal of the Syrian regime from power" as an important U.S. foreign policy goal. An equivalent percentage favors U.S. participation in a multilateral sanctions regime against Syria, and an overwhelming majority supports providing humanitarian aid to Syrians.
A solid majority of the U.S. public supports the Arab League and Turkey sponsoring safe havens for civilians in Syria. Indeed, two-thirds of Americans think this would be a good idea, on the grounds "that the international community has the responsibility to protect Syrians at risk," even if "this would violate Syria's sovereignty." On the other hand, Americans are split about using U.S. military assets to guarantee the sanctity of these havens, whether through providing air cover (48 percent favorable, 45 percent opposed), supplying weapons (56 percent opposed), or sending U.S. troops to defend them (77 percent opposed).
In general, the idea of the United States contributing troops to military operations in Syria garners very low support. In a June Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll, Americans overwhelmingly rejected "bombing Syrian air defenses" (which would be inherent in any no-fly zone), 72 percent to 22 percent. More recently, this month CNN found only 32 percent of Americans supporting (64 percent opposing) "using ground troops to try to establish zones" where opposition forces could not be attacked.
If there is one area where the public has shown movement, it is in providing arms and supplies to the opposition. As recently as June 2012, two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) opposed the prospect of the United States and its allies "sending arms and supplies to anti-government groups in Syria." By this month, however, CNN/ORC found opinion almost evenly divided on this very same question, with 48 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed. This shift in opinion suggests a potential political opening for advocates—whether in the GOP or the Obama administration—of more vigorous support for the Syrian opposition.
Like their American counterparts, the British public supports the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria—with support rising to 70 percent if it is approved by the United Nations. If anything, Brits appear to be more open than Americans to enforcing such a zone militarily. The French, for their part, narrowly approve of a "United Nations military intervention in Syria" (51 to 49 percent). In neither country, however, is there strong support for dispatching national troop contingents to conduct a ground war in Syria.
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