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Most Americans Now Support U.S. Airstrikes In Iraq

Recent polling has found a majority of Americans support airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.
Posted at 2:43 PM, Sep 09, 2014

After a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American public's attitude toward another military commitment can perhaps best be summed up in a single phrase. (Video via U.S. Department of Defense

KSNV"This is a war-weary nation."

WJLA"A war-weary American public."

MSNBC"We all recognize this country is war-weary."

But new polling suggests that's not quite the case anymore — at least when it comes to the threat posed by ISIS. 

 

According to a new CNN / ORC survey, while a majority of those polled oppose putting boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, 76 percent support additional airstrikes. Sixty-two percent favor providing military aid. 

A recent Washington Post / ABC poll offered similar results. 

The numbers are pretty remarkable for a country that's had little appetite for another overseas conflict. 

And they represent quite the contrast from last September when 6 in 10 Americanssaid they opposed U.S. strikes in Syria. 

Granted, it was a different enemy at the time. 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA VIA THE WHITE HOUSE: "It is in the military interest of the United States to respond to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike."

Obama finds himself in a similar position now. Wednesday he'll again make the case for military action of some sort in Syria — this time to a more willing public. 

So what explains the shift in perception? 

 

According to The Washington Post"This time, the president isn't looking to strike a state, or effectively take sides in a civil war, or move against individuals who haven't directly attacked U.S. interests. He isn't acting on evidence that's ever been in any significant dispute."

This conflict hits closer to home with the murders of Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff — both beheaded in gruesome, widely circulated videos.

And despite no credible evidence of an ISIS plot to attack the U.S., warnings like these from congressional leaders have helped stir up public fear of the group.

REP. PETER KING VIA CBS: "I believe strongly that ISIS does plan on attacking the United States." 

REP. MIKE ROGERS VIA NBC: "They are one plane ticket away from U.S. shores."

And there’s another key difference. This time around, a coalition of allies have vowed to help in the fight against ISIS.

Last year, U.S. airstrikes in Syria were a tougher sell. Key allies balked at the idea. 

So yes, the case for intervention is different now than it was a year ago. But not so different that you can't expect the public to back troops on the ground. 

As international relations expert John Mueller told Voice of America"Efforts that are pinprick-like and supportive and do not cost American lives might find a certain amount of tolerance but not anything bigger than that."

On Wednesday, President Obama will unveil his strategy to fight ISIS. The New York Times cites officials who say it involves a three-year-long campaign.   

This video includes images from Getty Images, FreeJamesFoley.org / Nicole Tung and The White House / Pete Souza