Here’s the emmes on attacking Syria — the American people think it’s a bad idea. In fact they like it even less than they like Congress, if you thought that was possible. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed only 9 percent of respondents support American intervention; by comparison (and a different poll) Congress has a 15 percent approval rating, on a good day.
War weariness is a big reason Americans don’t want another war. What’s more it’s hard to find any good guys in this conflict, only bad, badder and baddest, and it is sometimes hard to tell which is which. True, there are some true liberal democrats (the real thing, not the variety the tea partiers hate) but they are few and weak. And quite often the various elements of the opposition are as intent on killing each other as they are the government forces.
Twenty-five percent of respondents said they’d support some kind of American response if Assad were found to be using chemical weapons, as appears to be the case.
The administration has said any attack on Syria (which may come before the end of this week) won’t be for the purpose of regime change. The President apparently just wants to punish Bashar Assad for what Secretary of State John Kerry described as “a moral obscenity,” namely “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons civilians.”
Any American attack is also intended as a warning that the next time the U.S. could get tougher. Nonetheless, the administration continues to emphasize that it still feels that any solution to the conflict must be political, not military.
Obama has made it clear repeatedly he has no intention of putting boots on the ground and feels establishing a no-fly zone is very expensive and very risky given Syria’s advanced air defense system. He said following the last chemical weapons attack that crossed his red line he’d begin arming the “good” rebels but he must not be able to find any because there is no evidence any U.S. weapons have been shipped.
The President is also hoping this will put Russia on the defensive, embarrassed enough about defending a user of such heinous weapons that Vladimir Putin will stop protecting Assad and join efforts to find a diplomatic solution. Don’t hold your breath.
The Syrians are threatening that if the United States attacks, they will retaliate against Israel. In fact, Assad has said from the start that the Zionist entity is behind the uprising. His foreign minister, Walid Muallem, even suggested this week that Israel and al Qaeda are cooperating to topple the regime. No doubt they plan to set up a joint Zionist-Islamist republic in its place.
Israelis are less worried about Syrian retaliation than the message Obama’s response sends to Assad’s patrons in Iran about American resolve in preventing the Islamic republic from getting nuclear weapons.
Look for those Republicans who have been calling for military intervention in Syria to be the first to attack him for doing just that. Starters will be Sen. John McCain of Arizona and his echo, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, who’ve never seen a war they didn’t want to get involved in. McCain even had the chutzpah to accuse Obama of giving Assad the green light to use chemical weapons by not heeding the Arizonan’s call for earlier and more intense military action, notwithstanding widespread public opposition by a war-weary American public.