The Envoy

Polls show American public not sold on Libya intervention

The Envoy

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A day after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing all measures necessary short of a ground invasion to protect Libyan civilians from Muammar Gadhafi, a compilation of recent polls shows the war-weary American public is not eager for the United States to embark on an intervention there.

President Barack Obama is due to speak about Libya sometime this afternoon prior to his departure on  a planned five-day trip through Brazil, Chile and El Salvador. But the polling suggests he has considerable work to do in order to persuade the American public that the United States needs to play  a leading role in marshaling an international force to counter the Gadhafi crackdown against Libyan citizen dissidents.

The most striking early-survey finding: A whopping three-quarters of Americans--74 percent--said the United States should "leave it to others" to attempt to resolve the situation in Libya, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted last week.

Similarly, a Pew Research Center poll conducted last week found that 65 percent of respondents think the United States doesn't have the responsibility to do something about the fighting in Libya, compared with 27 percent who responded that  it does.

More worrying for the U.S. administration: More than three-quarters of respondents in the Pew poll (77 percent) said they oppose the United States bombing Libyan air defenses.

Similarly, according to a Fox News poll conducted March 14-16, some two-thirds of American registered voters--65 percent--oppose "the U.S. military getting involved with the situation in Libya," compared with just 25 percent who favor it.

The Pew poll also found the American public pretty evenly split over whether it favors U.S. participation in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, with 44 percent saying they favor it, and 45 percent opposed.

Full poll details here.

The polls' results underline considerable American wariness after a decade of heavy-lifting in Afghanistan and Iraq. And so far, the Obama administration seems to share the same broad ambivalence about another military intervention in the Middle East, according to the National Security Network's Heather Hurlburt. "Americans are right where the administration is — do something but us not in lead," Hurlburt said.

(Libyan foreign minister Musa Kusa announced a cease-fire Friday following a UN Security Council vote authorizing all means necessary to protect civilians from Muammar Gadhafi. Reuters photo.)

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