Americans want diplomacy on Syria, are unmoved by Obama speech

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – Three-quarters of Americans support efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria through an international agreement to control chemical weapons, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll that shows steady opposition to U.S. military action.

The poll of 776 Americans, conducted over three days this week, indicates that just 25 percent of Americans oppose diplomacy to deal with the crisis that was ignited by the Aug. 21 chemical attack in a Damascus suburb that U.S. officials say killed more than 1,400 adults and children.

The survey reflects the anti-war sentiment that has shadowed President Barack Obama’s request for congressional authorization for a military strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in light of the chemical attack.

The United States has blamed Assad’s government for the attack, while Russia and Assad say it was the work of rebel forces.

An offer by Russia, an ally of Syria, to help put Syria’s stock of chemical weapons under international control has raised the possibility of an agreement that could help Obama avoid an embarrassing rejection from a skeptical Congress, or an unpopular military action.

The U.S. Senate, led by Obama’s Democrats, has postponed a vote on a military authorization measure while the administration pursues a diplomatic course on Syria.

The poll found that Obama’s speech to the nation on Tuesday had virtually no effect on Americans’ reluctance to engage in Syria’s civil war after a decade of U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In polling of 1,386 Americans conducted Monday through Friday, about 62 percent said the United States should not intervene in Syria, virtually the same percentage as a week earlier.

Reuters/Ipsos pollsters also found that most Americans were not swayed by Obama’s argument that the United States had a compelling interest to get involved in Syria to stop the spread of chemical weapons and protect U.S. national security.

About 65 percent of Americans said Syria’s problems were “none of our business,” the same percentage that said so two weeks earlier.

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