CLEAR MAJORITY SUPPORTS ADMINISTRATION LINE ON LIBYA…. International military efforts in Libya are still quite new — intervention began in earnest just Saturday — but so far, the policy appears to enjoy the support of most Americans.
Seven in ten Americans support military action by the U.S. and other countries to establish a no-fly zone in Libya, a 14-point increase since last week, according to a new national poll.
But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates there is less among the public for air strikes that directly target Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s troops who are fighting opposition forces, and only one in four want to send ground forces into the conflict.
A 70% majority support the establishment of a no-fly zone, up from 56% a week ago. A much smaller majority wants air strikes target Libyan troops,
Just as important, 70% also oppose the deployment of U.S. ground forces, a step President Obama has repeatedly ruled out.
Also of interest, the partisan divide — about half the country supports the president’s handling the situation in Libya, which seems low given the 70% who express support for the larger mission. So what’s keeping Obama’s numbers low? Republicans are the most likely to support the White House policy, but only 27% approve of the president for having a policy in line with their own preferences.
For the record, had the pollster called me as a participant, I’m not sure how I’d respond to the questions, and I find myself skeptical but generally unsure of the mission’s value. Indeed, I found myself nodding quite bit while reading Matt Yglesias’ item this afternoon: “I … feel like this is just one of those weeks when it’s really bad to be a general purpose political pundit who’s supposed to write a high-volume blog. I can hardly just ignore Libya, but I don’t have strong convictions one way or the other about it or a strong knowledge base. Had this not gotten UNSCR authorization, I’d be clearly opposed and I’d have lengthy and well-considered reasons for that opposition, but that’s not the case.”
I’ve already noted in previous posts the unanswered questions surrounding this policy, and those doubts remain. James Fallows offers a helpful summary of the relevant question marks: “But after this spectacular first stage of air war, what happens then? If the airstrikes persuade Qaddafi and his forces just to quit, great! But what if they don’t? What happens when a bomb lands in the ‘wrong’ place? As one inevitably will. When Arab League supporters of the effort see emerging ‘flaws’ and ‘abuses’ in its execution? As they will. When the fighting goes on and the casualties mount up and a commitment meant to be ‘days, not weeks’ cannot ‘decently’ be abandoned, after mere days, with so many lives newly at stake? When the French, the Brits, and other allies reach the end of their military resources — or their domestic support — and more of the work naturally shifts to the country with more weapons than the rest of the world combined?”
But despite all of this, I’m hardly an expert on U.S. policy towards Libya, or even Libya itself. What would I have done had the decision fallen to me? It’s unsatisfying in blogging/punditry, but I don’t know.