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US support for airstrikes is low

Updated: 2013-08-29 07:35
By Chen Weihua ( China Daily)

As the United States tries to drum up public support for possible airstrikes against the Syrian government over the alleged use of chemical weapons, it is facing increasing doubt and opposition on its home turf.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken on Aug 19-23 found that 9 percent of Americans said President Barack Obama should act, while 60 percent said the US should not intervene in Syria's civil war.

US support for airstrikes is low

Some suggest that Obama is now facing a hardened public that has learned a difficult lesson from more than 10 years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A decade after the US invasion to remove Saddam Hussein, Iraq is mired in escalating sectarian violence. The situation in Afghanistan is equally dire as the US prepares for a withdrawal of troops next year. The two wars have cost the US trillions of dollars, contributing to a mounting national debt that is on its way to $17 trillion.

Some analysts have warned the US is on the brink of being sucked into "another Iraq" in Syria if limited air strikes do not achieve their expected goals. In that scenario, the US may have to get deeply involved in the conflict.

The tepid support for military intervention has been ridiculed by critics, who noted that stepping into the Syrian civil war is less popular than the US' least popular political institution, Congress, whose approval rating hovers between 10 and 15 percent.

But many have questioned the legality of conducting military strikes without the authorization of Congress, which is now in its summer recess.

International politicians, such as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have warned that if the US goes ahead with airstrikes, it would be in gross violation of international law.

Amid the Obama administration's plan to release so-called evidence of Syria's use of chemical weapons, which may happen as early as Thursday, many are reminded of the now-familiar scene back in 2003 when then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell made his case - using false intelligence - at the United Nations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Hans Blix, then chief UN arms inspector for Iraq, told the media on Monday that the current situation echoes the situation with Iraq during George W. Bush's presidency.

Contact the writer at chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com

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