WASHINGTON (AP) - Only 1 in 5 Americans believe that failing to respond to chemical weapons attacks in Syria would embolden other rogue governments, rejecting the heart of a weeks-long White House campaign for U.S. military strikes, an Associated Press poll concluded Monday.
The poll of 1,007 adults nationwide found that most Americans oppose even a limited attack on Syria - likely with cruise missiles - despite Obama administration warnings that inaction would risk national security and ignore a gruesome humanitarian crisis. And a slim majority - 53 percent - fear that a strike would lead to a long-term U.S. military commitment in Syria.
The survey reflects a U.S. public that is tired of Mideast wars after a dozen years of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. It undercuts political support President Barack Obama is hoping to garner as he seeks congressional authorization this week to strike the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The poll indicated that 53 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents and 73 percent of Republicans believe Congress should vote against the plan to strike Syria. Only one out of four Democrats think that an attack would deter other world leaders from acquiring and using chemical weapons; even fewer Republicans and independents agreed.
Overall, 61 percent of people surveyed said they wanted Congress to vote against authorizing U.S. military strikes in Syria, the poll found. By comparison, 26 percent said they supported it, and the rest were undecided.
Just 16 percent of Americans said they did not think that the limited strikes would lead to a longer military campaign, the poll indicated. And an overwhelming majority - 75 percent - said they do not support sending U.S. troops to Syria. Obama has already pledged that will not happen.
The AP poll found that 54 percent of people do not approve the way Obama has handled the U.S. response to Syria. That marked an increase from the 43 percent in June 2012.