Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan clarifies the broad and powerful disdain the American people have for the Obama Syrian attack plan. It is clear that over seven in ten Americans say no.
The American people do not support military action. A Reuters-Ipsos poll had support for military action at 20%, Pew at 29%. Members of Congress have been struck, in some cases shocked, by the depth of opposition from their constituents. A great nation cannot go to war—and that’s what a strike on Syria, a sovereign nation, is, an act of war—without some rough unity as to the rightness of the decision. Widespread public opposition is in itself reason not to go forward.
Can the president change minds? Yes, and he’ll try. But it hasn’t worked so far. This thing has jelled earlier than anyone thought. More on that further down.
What are the American people thinking? Probably some variation of: Wrong time, wrong place, wrong plan, wrong man.
Twelve years of war. A sense that we’re snakebit in the Mideast. Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t go well, Libya is lawless. In Egypt we threw over a friend of 30 years to embrace the future. The future held the Muslim Brotherhood, unrest and a military coup. Americans have grown more hard-eyed—more bottom-line and realistic, less romantic about foreign endeavors, and more concerned about an America whose culture and infrastructure seem to be crumbling around them.
The administration has no discernible strategy. A small, limited strike will look merely symbolic, a face-saving measure. A strong, broad strike opens the possibility of civil war, and a victory for those as bad as or worse than Assad. And time has already passed. Assad has had a chance to plan his response, and do us the kind of damage to which we would have to respond.