The Compass

« French Diplomat Warns of Western Failure in Afghanistan | Blog Home Page | The Wit and Wisdom of Lech Walesa »

Syria Shows Which Voices Matter in the U.S. Foreign Policy Debate

Whose opinion counts when it comes to U.S. foreign policy? Not yours.


There have been several recent opinion polls in the U.S. showing a strong preference for staying out of Syria's civil war. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 61 percent of respondents opposed U.S. involvement in Syria. Another, from the New York Times and CBS, found that 62 percent of Americans polled said Washington had no responsibility to "do something" about the fighting in Syria.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is signalling that it is ready to arm Syrian rebel groups, drawing the U.S. inexorably deeper in a struggle the American people say they want no part of.

All of this raises an important question: if the American people don't want any part of Syria's civil war, who does? Who's clamoring for action in Syria? As far as I can tell it consists of journalists and think tank analysts, members of Congress, some of the president's advisers and foreign governments. The American public, writ-large, as best we can tell, is not.

And that's all you need to know about whose opinion is actually decisive when it comes to shaping U.S. policies.

Let's also stipulate that the American people could be wrong about Syria. They certainly are not well informed: a full 36 percent of people polled had "neither heard nor read" anything about Syria's civil war, according to the Reuters survey. But right or wrong, their opinion doesn't count for much.

(AP Photo)

Sponsored Links
Related Articles
October 30, 2013
Southern Europeans Don't Trust Their Governments - Greg Scoblete
October 26, 2013
President Obama Is No Captain Phillips - Nile Gardiner
October 25, 2013
Why America Needs Japan More than Ever - Kenneth Weinstein & Kin-ichi Yoshihara
Greg Scoblete
Author Archive