Libya: Nearly Five Months of NATO Engagement, But U.S. Opinion is Little Changed

August 10, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

Americans continue not to be quite sure of why NATO is fighting in Libya: nearly five months after NATO’s support for the Libyan rebels began, a majority of Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll who are paying attention to the conflict say they are not sure what the goals of the mission are.

More than a quarter think the NATO involvement in enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya will continue for at least another year, an increase since early April. Then, many more expected the involvement to be over within months. 

On many issues, opinions about involvement in Libya now are no different than they were in April. Americans would like NATO to target Muammar Gaddafi — but only if the opportunity arises. They are divided on whether or not removing him from power should be a specified goal. In fact, there is concern over exactly what NATO is doing in Libya. By a margin of 40% to 27%, Americans believe the U.S. and other countries were right to take military action in Libya, but only 27% say the goals of that mission are even somewhat clear, no improvement since April. 

The President gets mixed reviews on his handling of Libya: 39% approve, but 43% do not. Again, this is little different from the assessment Americans gave the President in April. 

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