Old ships battling it out in the open sea with flames and all
When President Obama addressed the nation from the East Room of the White House last week, he sought to answer a simple question about Syria: Why should Americans be invested in a complex conflict unfolding thousands of miles away?
“I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons,” Obama said. But nearly a week later, Americans are split on the question of whether the United States has critical interests on the line, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday.
Forty-eight percent say they don’t think America’s vital interests are at stake in the situation involving Syria, while 45 percent say they do. Eight percent say they have no opinion.
The poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday. On Saturday, the U.S. and Russia reached an agreement for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons, a development that appeared to spare the Syrian regime the imminent threat of a military strike that Obama had been calling for in response to an alleged chemical attack the U.S. says killed more than 1,400 people.
The survey results underscore the difficulty Obama has faced trying to convince a war-weary American public that what happens in Syria matters for the U.S. And it’s a reminder that if the diplomatic agreement falls through — and Americans say there is a high probability it will — the president will have a heavy lift in front of him should he return to a call for a military strike.
Still, Syria ranks pretty high on the list of recent overseas crises when it comes to how Americans have viewed the link to U.S. interests. The only two that are clearly above Syria are the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in the 1994 North Korean nuclear talks.