Monday, August 22, 2011
The Obama administration has increased its criticism of Syria’s violent
response to anti-government protests, and both President Obama and Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton are now calling for Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad to step down. But most U.S. voters continue to think America should
mind its own business when it comes to Syria.
Just 12% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the United States should get more
directly involved in the Syrian crisis, according to a new Rasmussen Reports
national telephone survey. Sixty-six percent (66%) think the United States
should leave the Syrian situation alone. Twenty-two percent (22%) are not
sure which course is better.
This marks little change in voter sentiment from early May when Syria’s
internal political crisis began gaining more news coverage and is consistent
with views expressed earlier this year about U.S. involvement in the
domestic turmoil in Egypt and other Arab countries.
Largely unchanged, too, is the view by just 26% of voters that the Obama
administration is doing a good or excellent job in response to the political
situation in Syria. Twenty-eight percent (28%) now view the administration’s
handling of the political crisis in Syria as poor, up five points from early
Twenty-seven percent (27%) believe a change in the Syrian government will be
good for the United States. Only six percent (6%) think such a change will
be bad for America, down five points from the previous survey, while 28%
feel it would have no impact. But also similar to findings in May, a sizable
number (38%) of voters are undecided.
The national survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 19-20,
2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage
points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports
surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.
Only three percent (3%) of voters see Syria as an ally of the United States,
while 26% characterize the Middle Eastern country as an enemy. Fifty-two
percent (52%) think it falls somewhere in between the two, but 19% more aren’t
Syria borders Israel to the northeast along the Golan Heights and has long
been one of the Jewish state’s chief enemies. U.S. policymakers see Syria as
a major sponsor of terrorism and consider it a destabilizing force in the
Only 56% of voters say they have been following recent news reports about
the political unrest in Syria, with 18% who have been following Very
Closely. This means voters are following the situation in Syria even less
closely than they were in May.
There continues to be virtually no partisan disagreement about U.S.
involvement in the Syrian crisis. Roughly two-thirds of Republicans,
Democrats and voters not affiliated with either party think the United
States should leave the situation alone.
However, most Democrats (53%) rate the administration’s response to the
Syrian situation as good or excellent, a view shared by just seven percent
(7%) of Republicans and 18% of unaffiliated voters.
But GOP voters are more likely than the others to view Syria as an enemy of
the United States.
Voter confidence about the short-term course of the war in Afghanistan has
fallen to its lowest level in nearly two years, while confidence about the
direction in Iraq over the next six months has dropped to the lowest point
in almost five years of surveying.
Support for continuing U.S. military action in Libya has fallen to its
lowest level yet. Just 20% now believe the United States should continue its
military action there.
Compared to the four presidents who have followed him, Ronald Reagan had a
more limited view of when to send U.S. military force into action overseas,
and 75% of voters still agree with him that “the United States should not
commit its forces to military action overseas unless the cause is vital to
our national interest.”
"Being the world's policeman" is a phrase often used to suggest America is
the nation chiefly responsible for peace and the establishment of democracy
in the rest of the world. But just 11% of voters think that should be