Use of Chemical Weapons Affects the Public's View on Military Intervention in Syria


Credit: US Army/wikimedia

One of the arguments against intervention in Syria has been that such a move would not be welcomed by most Americans. Numerous polls from last year and this year show that Americans have been broadly consistent in their skepticism of military intervention in Syria. 

However, it seems that the use of chemical weapons in Syria will change the minds of many Americans. Over at The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog Micah Cohen shows that a majority of Americans said before the recent confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria that they would support military intervention in Syria if the Assad regime used chemical weapons (graphic below).

Credit:New York Times,

Quite what makes the use of chemical weapons so especially outrageous escapes me. A significant number of Americans were against intervention when tens of thousands of Syrians had already been killed and many others tortured and raped. I can't see how now that U.S. officials are confident that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons that such a drastic shift in moral outlook can be justified.

Of course, terms like "chemical weapon" and "weapon of mass destruction" come with a lot of political, legal, and historical baggage that no doubt influenced some of those surveyed in the polls. But even considering the shock value of chemical weapons the shift in opinion outlined by Cohen is disturbing.

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  1. The NSA used chemical weapons to gather communications data.

  2. So that’s the chemical weapon symbol? What are those supposed to be, beakers?

    1. Those are atoms bonded together in a molecule. Molecules are very dangerous things and must be destroyed where ever they are encountered.

      1. Huh. I thought that was a top-down view of three people joining hands and singing Kumbayah around a campfire. That’s how you fight against chemical weapons.

        1. That’s how you fight against chemical weapons.

          And burn off your dirty, dirty hippy hands.


  3. So ten years ago when Bush, Cheney, Kerry, Clinton and a host of politicians from across the globe claimed Iraq had WMD it was all a lie, but now that President Obama is in office it’s taken as gospel that Syria has used chem weapons? And now it’s OK to intervene?

    Fuck that. The United States has no compelling interest in Syria. We need to stay out of it.

    1. word

  4. Here’s a nice story about a Syrian rebel leader eating the heart of an enemy.

    Reminder: Senator John McCain thinks these people are America’s friends.

    Has any statesman in our nation’s history ever had as refined a moral sensitivity as John McCain?

    1. Somewhere, there is a bed in an Alzheimer’s Care Facility with John McCain’s name on it.

  5. LOOK OVER THERE!!!!!!

    /Obama Administration

  6. The reasoning behind WMD use being a justification for intervention is that we’d want to seal the can of worms so that the regime in question or others don’t see it as an option.

    That said, it appears a lot of people haven’t learned the lesson that US military intervention is not a panacea or guaranteed to have good outcomes.

    1. The reasoning behind WMD use being a justification for intervention is that we’d want to seal the can of worms so that the regime in question or others don’t see it as an option.

      Ummm, that was what Iraq was supposedly about and it didn’t fucking work if they’re using them now. I guess when it fails all the dumbass obama sycophants will get to point their grubby little fingers and say, “BOOOOOOSH DID IT TOO!!”


      1. There weren’t any WMD in Iraq. Yeah that was a big fuckup all around, wasn’t it?

        I did not defend the theory in that post, btw.

        Is drawing a red line at chemical weapons irrational considering the many deaths caused by so-called conventional weapons? Maybe. Are chemical weapons covered by the second amendment, by the way?

    2. No, that’s not the reasoning. It’s just that if people want to sound like anything in a poll, it’s reasonable. If people are asked, “But what if…?”, they’ll overwhelmingly take the opp’ty to straddle on the if, no matter what the original question or the conditional is.

      Try it. Ask people if the sky is blue. Then ask them, “Would the sky still be blue if pencils were lead?” Oh, well, in that case….

  7. I’m somewhat sorry to say that I just don’t give a shit about Syria, Egypt, Libya, or any of those other benighted places in the Middle East and Africa (northern or southern).

    I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person…but I don’t really care if it does. I’m just worn out from a lifetime of “people always torture and kill each other somewhere in the world, and do we REALLY need to get involved?”

    No. Sorry, Syrians, if you were gassed or nuked or fileted- makes no difference to me. It’s horrid, but doesn’t affect US suck curity, so….good luck, but I’d prefer to keep our money, guns, accoutrements and troops right here. If we receive an actual threat to MY/OUR security? OK, turn the 101st on ’em – no mercy, no quarter. Till then – yer on yer own.


  8. So gassing a hundred people with WWI weaponry is worse than killing a few thousand with machine guns and mortar fire? Probably faked anyway.

    1. Let’s not forget the beheadings. Them Islamists love their beheadings.

      1. Yeah .. they really love that Inquisition …
        Ooooops … wrong religion ….

    2. “”‘Probably faked anyway.””‘

      You notice that so far the Obama administration has not even put forward what the evidence is. Its hard to dispute evidence that is not even presented. We are suppose to take the word of unknown experts having unknown evidence who just a few weeks ago said there was no usage to now saying that there is.

      This will be a faith based war.

  9. I just don’t understand why people believe one fucking thing the government says. They must desperately want to believe it.

  10. And if the rebels used it?

    1. Or if the rebels are as bad as the Assad regime?

  11. Really? Wow, Why didnt I think of that?

  12. After all this people still fall for this shit. Yeah, fuck this country and the people.

  13. I’ve lost track; which one are we arming, Hezbolla or al Queda?

    … Hobbit

    1. Yes.

  14. How convenient. A ton of scandals and Obama all of a sudden discovers Syria using chemical weapons.

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