President Obama is seeking Congressional approval to strike Syria, and it seems that the president has gained some footing with Congressional leaders. What’s strange, however, is that, despite the fact that Obama is winning favor on Capitol Hill, the public’s support for a strike on Syria is very low.
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of Americans opposing a strike almost doubles the number of those supporting it. In an overwhelmingly wide margin, 48 percent of Americans oppose a strike whereas only 28 percent support one. In a situation that echoes Bush and Iraq, Obama seems to be playing to the Beltway, as opposed to the American public.
Not only is there some pushback on the domestic front, there are some major international factors that come into play with a launching a strike.
There is concern among Israelis because many fear that if the US strikes Syria, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would launch a retaliation strike against Israel. Forty-six percent of Israeli Jews believe that an American strike on Syria would result in a Syrian strike on Israel. It has been noted that Israelis support a “precision strike” on the Syrian regime’s “weapons depot,” but don’t think that the U.S. should attempt to remove Assad from power.
The Syrian rebels are in alliance with al-Qaeda. Albeit a loose alliance, Syrian rebels announced their loyalty to al-Qaeda, the group founded by Osama Bin Laden. Lebanese Sheik Omar Bakri said that “They [al-Qaeda] provided them early on with technical, military and financial support.” Baki noted back in June that “There will certainly be greater coordination between the two groups.”
When asked whether they think a strike against Syria would “create a backlash against the US and its allies in the region,” 74 percent of Americans surveyed responded that they thought it was likely. Considering all the speculation on the possible consequences on the national stage, the numbers seem to carry a bit of weight.
A strike on Syria is only going to worsen the situation. Numerous reporters from numerous news sources have repeated it ad nauseum, and a majority of Americans have voiced their mutual feelings. But Obama isn’t listening to his public, and a majority of voices saying the same thing aren’t usually wrong. Which begs the question, who exactly is Obama trying to please?
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.