Despite reports of atrocities being carried out in places like Homs and Houla getting major headlines, the majority of Americans still think military intervention in Syria by the United States is unwarranted. In fact, nearly seven out of ten Americans think the U. S. should resist involving itself in the fighting between government and revolution forces in the Middle Eastern nation.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Council poll, 33 percent of Americans think the U. S. should act militarily in Syria. The number is up from 25 percent reflected in a similar poll taken in February. However, with the margin of error for the current poll is +/- 3 points, the number could be as low as 30 percent.
Not only are a majority of Americans against military intervention in Syria, but the demographics do not show a polarization by party lines on the issue, either. While 57 percent of Democrats favor no action, 58 percent of Republicans feel the same.
The same can be said for gender. Both males and females posted 61 percent opposition to intervention.
Even though prominent legislators like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have called for some type of militarized action, the Obama administration has been reluctant to move against the Syrian government as it did in Libya. However, in Libya the United States was flanked by its NATO allies and worked under the auspices of the United Nations and its Responsibility to Protect Doctrine. There is no such coalition to intervene in Syria, nor has the U. N. stepped forward to declare that Syrian civilians need protection from the government of President Bashal al-Assad, even though evidence of government-supported atrocities abound.
Lindsey Hilsum, writing for the Daily Beast, explained Syria's problem as a direct result of the success of the intervention in Libya. Russia and China, both members of the U. N. Security Council, have noted they will not condone another intervention such as the one in Libya, where, despite assurances by Western powers that the intervention would not directly affect regime change, Moammar Gadhafi's regime was indeed targeted. Syria has diplomatic and economic ties with both Russia and China. And unlike with Libya, the rebel forces in Syria have remained divided even after 15 months of conflict, making it difficult to effectively support a resistance in order hopefully protect the greater populace.
Earlier this week, the U. S. met with its allies in Turkey to discuss Syria's internal conflict. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement that work was being done to "close off the regime's economic lifelines."
But the recent poll indicating that Americans feel the U. S. has no responsibility in the Syrian conflict is much like the sentiment shown when news of the Libyan conflict came to light. Although polls showed that about half agreed with air strikes in Libya (and even more supported air strikes if done to protect civilians), polls by CNN and Pew Research indicated that greater involvement than enforcing a no-fly zone -- such as sending in ground troops -- saw support drop below 30 percent.
Even though atrocities like the Qubair massacre currently making headlines prompt worldwide cries of outrage and calls for intervention, direct military action by the U. S., a coalition of Western powers, or by the United Nations on humanitarian grounds seems unlikely at present. A chaotic revolution with no clear rebel leadership coupled with the political and diplomatic involvement in Syrian affairs of nations like China and Russia also preclude direct -- or indirect -- involvement.
Thus, the concentration on economic and diplomatic sanctions against the Assad regime.
Still, even if circumstances favored military action on the part of outside nations like the U. S., those nations would have to deal with the sentiments of their own populations with regard to the intervention. And in the U. S., at least at present, getting militarily involved in Syria is an unpopular concept.