In contrast to an earlier CNN poll
showing a majority of Americans supporting establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, another survey released Tuesday finds the public almost evenly split on whether the U.S. should taker such action.
A Pew Research Center poll
, conducted March 10-13, shows that a slim majority (51 percent) favor increasing sanctions on Libya, but when it comes to enforcing a no-fly zone, 45 percent are opposed while 44 percent favor doing so, with 11 percent undecided.
The CNN poll said Americans favored a no-fly zone by a 56 percent to 40 percent margin, with 4 percent undecided.
The results of the Pew poll conflicted with the CNN poll on another point: whether the U.S. should send arms to the Libyan rebels. In the Pew poll, Americans opposed doing so by a 69 percent to 23 percent margin, with 8 percent undecided. The CNN poll said 53 percent of Americans supported send arms and supplies to the opposition while 43 percent opposed doing so, with 4 percent undecided.
In both polls, large majorities of Americans opposed bombing of Libyan air bases by the U.S. or the use of ground troops.
The Pew poll also compared public desire (or lack of it) for intervention in Libya to other crises involving wars, and widespread death and destruction. Sixty-three percent said the U.S. does not have a responsibility to act in Libya while only 27 percent support intervention, with 10 percent undecided. That contrasts with the ethnic genocide in Darfur where Americans favored action by a 51 percent to 36 percent margin, with 3 percent undecided.
Americans were split on intervention in the fighting in Kosovo in 1999, with 47 percent favoring it and 46 percent opposed, with 7 percent undecided. And, by a 64 percent to 30 percent margin, with 6 percent undecided, they said the U.S. did not have a responsibility to intervene in the conflict between Serbs and Bosnians in 1995.
The biggest reason for the reluctance to commit to a U.S. role in Libya among was concern over how much American forces are already committed to conflicts around the world. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed held this view. Nineteen percent said that the Libyan opposition might turn out to be no better than the Gadhafi regime, 13 percent did not consider Libya of vital interest to the U.S., 5 percent said it was because they do not support the use of force and 12 percent cited other reasons or were undecided.
The biggest reason cited by those who favored U.S. involvement was that it was important to show that America backs democracy.
The belief that the U.S. did not have a responsibility to act in Libya cut across party lines, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents sharing that view.
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