Most Americans think the Syrian government will use chemical weapons again
Americans support the recent US airstrikes on Syrian targets and think that the United States has a responsibility to respond to that nation’s alleged chemical weapons attack. But this by no means indicates acceptance of Americans taking a role in the Syrian Civil War.
In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans clearly differentiate between a response to alleged chemical weapons attacks and a responsibility to do something about the civil war in general. Just as they said last week, the public finds little role for the US when it comes to the fighting in Syria, but that opinion changes when it comes to the US responding to the use of chemical weapons.
These two questions elicit bipartisan agreement: Republicans and Democrats both favor a response to chemical weapons attacks, and generally reject a responsibility to take action to stop the fighting, though Republicans are very closely divided. Trump voters in this poll are less conflicted on this question: by 43% to 34%, they reject any US responsibility to take action in the Syrian civil war – but, like the rest of the country, they overwhelmingly support the missile strikes.
While the public supports the US missile strikes on chemical weapons facilities, there is little hope that will achieve their goal of stopping the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Only 8% think the US strikes will end the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. More than seven times as many think Syria will use chemical weapons again.
Still, Americans approve of the strike 47% to 36%, with much of the disapproval coming from Democrats, who disapprove of the missile strike 49% to 33%.
More Americans view Syria as an enemy of the United States now than at any time in the last two years. Belief that Syria was an enemy of the United States rose at the time of last year’s April missile strike against a Syrian military base (also in response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons). But that percentage declined afterwards. It rose again in the wake of last week’s strike.
The percentage saying Syria was an enemy of the US jumped 11 points after the US strike. Democrats and Republicans agree.
Americans return to their partisan views when it comes to evaluating how the President is handling Syria. Although approval on this question rose 10 points in the last week, disapproval also rose by three points. And three times as many Democrats disapprove of how President Trump is handling Syria as approve. This week 42% approve of the President’s handling of Syria, and 41% disapprove.