18 May 1935
In an earlier post I looked at some recent opinion polls that suggested opposition amongst the British public to military intervention in Syria was grounded less in Leftist anti-imperialism and more in nationalistic isolationism tinged with xenophobia.
A Telegraph article by Tom Mludzinski of Ipsos MORI presents more details on changing public views regarding military action. He contrasts the lack of support for Syria action with levels of support for earlier interventions, from the 1991 Gulf War to Libya in 2011.
An interesting aspect is the apparent decline in influence of a UN mandate. Only 6% support action in Syria without UN backing, and even if it were to get UN backing only 34% say they would approve. Intervention in Libya, backed by a UN Security Council resolution, had 63% support.
One factor in influencing public opinion may be which way the balance of fear tips. 40% are concerned that doing nothing is worse than taking action, and 48% think that by not taking action we might be encouraging other countries to use chemical weapons, but nearly eight in ten believe that intervening in Syria will encourage attacks on Britain and the West.
How many base their opinion on the likely impact of any intervention on Syrians? Not too many:
Perhaps most telling is the way the British public view the role of our armed forces, with very few wanting Britain to be the “world’s policeman” or the “guardian of liberty”. Ten years after the beginning of the War in Iraq, three in ten (31pc) Britons now say British armed forces should intervene abroad when other people’s rights and freedom are threatened. Most are more isolationist with 44pc saying we should only intervene when British interests are directly threatened and a further 21pc believe British armed forces should only be used to defend British territory.Read the rest at The Telegraph.
8 May 1937