On Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney strenuously denied that American provision of arms for the Syrian rebellion had anything to do with public opinion. “We’re assessing options all the time, including, providing weapons to the opposition,” Carney stated. “The president makes a decision about the implementation of national security options based on our national security interests, not on what might satisfy critics at any given moment about a policy.”
But polls show that the President’s “red line” on Syria – use of any sort of weapons of mass destruction – happens to coincide with the public’s red line. In August 2012, Obama stated, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” Just a week and a half before, a National Journal poll of its National Security Insiders showed that 72 percent thought that use of chemical weapons was a game changer. Polls ever since have shown a solid majority or plurality of American support for military intervention if chemical weapons were used by the Assad regime. Conversely, polls show a massive unwillingness to intervene without use of such weapons.
As Micah Cohen of the New York Times writes, “The shift in administration policy on Syria seems reflective of public opinion. Polls have consistently shown Americans are deeply wary of the United States becoming involved in the fighting in Syria. But they also show that public support for intervention increases sharply under circumstances where it is confirmed that the Assad regime used chemical weapons.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).