The gulf between popular and elite opinion of Obama’s new war is staggering. Americans, like the Brits, do not favor their own countries bearing the entire burden of preventing systemic abuses in the global system like the use of chemical weapons. They believe – rightly – that that is a role for the UN, a body Obama did not even think of engaging. Yes, in that respect, he is just another McCain and Clinton on this one. An enlightening poll from YouGov:
The opposition to intervention does not mean that Americans approve of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons: 77% say it qualifies as a war crime. Only one in ten disagree. By more than three to one, Americans believe the international community has a responsibility to stop the use of such weapons.
However, for most Americans, Democrats and Republicans, the job of intervention belongs to the United Nations, not to the United States. By more than two to one, Americans say that the U.N. has a responsibility to intervene in trouble spots around the world. In last week’s poll, the public took the opposite position when asked whether the United States had such a responsibility.
Our only hope, as in Britain, is that the American people will stop this. Because they have a lot more sense than John Kerry or Samantha Power.