One of the hopeful features of the current political climate is that public opinion in the US has not been stampeded into supporting the bombing of Syria, at least not yet. In fact, as the propaganda for the war increases, public opinion is going the other way. Pew reports that just within the last two weeks, opposition to the war has surged from 48% to 63 % with support being stagnant at 28%.
The survey says that Republicans in particular have turned against the bombing plans. It is hard to say whether this is due to them having misgivings about the war or is a backlash as a result of Democratic supporters and liberal war hawks arguing hyperbolically that congressional support for the war is essential to avoid crippling Obama’s presidency. There are undoubtedly many Republicans who want to do just that and this argument may have swayed them.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds a similar result and members of Congress are reporting that calls and letters against the war are running around 95-99%. This may be why Harry Reid shifted the Senate vote from tomorrow to next week.
Meanwhile there is hope on the diplomatic front, with Russia moving quickly on the idea that Syrian chemical weapons could be placed under international control. Getting rid of chemical weapons by all countries is always a desirable goal, as is indeed the goal of getting rid of nuclear and biological weapons as well. The problem always is that these worthy goals are applied selectively to just those countries that the US wants to disarm.
The Russian/Syrian proposal undoubtedly offers a way out of the current drive to war though it still leaves the Syrian conflict unresolved. It offers Obama a chance to avoid a war that is highly unpopular. The question is whether the US will try to work something out along these lines or those advocating a war can keep the pressure on him to not change course and, using France as its proxy, start to shift the goals posts and create conditions that Syria cannot accept so that they can bomb anyway.
Oddly enough, the Russian/Syrian proposal was apparently spurred by an off-the-cuff comment by John Kerry that is now being portrayed as a ‘gaffe’, as if anything that moves us away from war must be a mistake.