Public Wary of Military Intervention in Libya

Mar 14, 2011

The public by a wide margin says the United States does not have a responsibility to do something about the fighting between government forces and anti-government groups in Libya. And while opinion is divided over enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, this view is undercut by the fact that Americans overwhelmingly oppose bombing Libyan military air defenses.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 10-13 among 1,001 adults, finds that 63% say the United States does not have a responsibility to act in Libya; fewer than half as many (27%) say the U.S. has this responsibility. Opinion about U.S. responsibility to take action in Libya is comparable to views about the conflict between Serbs and Bosnians in 1995; just 30% said the U.S. had a responsibility in that case. By contrast, far more Americans said the U.S. had a responsibility to take action in Kosovo in 1999 and in the Darfur crisis of 2007.

Reflecting the public’s reluctance about U.S. involvement in Libya, barely half (51%) favor increasing economic and diplomatic sanctions against Libya. The public is divided over the possibility of enforcing a no-fly zone – 44% favor this action while 45% are opposed. Yet just 16% favor bombing Libyan air defenses – 77% oppose bombing the sites. And large majorities reject providing arms to anti-government groups (69%) and sending troops into Libya (82%).

Read the full report Public Wary of Military Intervention in Libya on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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