Last week, President Obama walked a cautious line when talking about American intervention in Syria, after chemical weapon use had been confirmed.
“We don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them,” Obama said. “When I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts. That's what the American people would expect.”
Aside from Obama’s own foreign policy philosophy, Americans aren't eager to see the U.S intervene in Syria, even if chemical weapons use is confirmed. Here are five charts that help explain why Americans aren’t feeling hawkish these days:
Americans aren’t following news from Syria very closely.
The April news cycle was dominated with news of the Boston bombings, which eclipsed news from Syria. This was especially evident the week of April 24th, when this New York Times/CBS News poll was conducted. It was that week when Israel said it had proof that Syria used chemical weapons.
Similarly, a Pew Research Center survey conducted over April 25 to 28 found a majority of Americans were not following the specific news over the charges that Syria used chemical weapons.
Most Americans don’t think the U.S. should intervene.
The general question over whether the U.S. should "do something about fighting inside of Syria" was opposed by most respondents.
A Pew Research Center poll from December found most people didn’t think the U.S. had a responsibility to do something about the civil war in Syria. The response was similar in April’s New York Times/CBS News poll, which found a clear majority didn’t think the U.S. should intervene.
Syria's chemical weapon use makes Americans more receptive to military action, but it's still short of a majority.
When informed about Syria's chemical weapons use, support for intervention rises to 45 percent, a plurality, according to the April Pew poll. But it's short of a majority, with many undecided or unfamiliar with the details of the Syrian civil war.
Americans think the Iraq War was a mistake.
Americans feel war-weary, after years of occupation in Iraq and as the war winds down in Afghanistan. On the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a majority of Americans said the the war was a mistake, according to a March Gallup poll.