Last week, several polls came out assessing U.S. public opinion on intervention in Syria.
According to the Huffington Post poll, Americans oppose U.S. air strikes on Syria by 3-to-1. They oppose sending arms to the rebels by 4-to-1. They oppose putting U.S. ground troops into Syria by 14-to-1. Democrats, Republicans and independents are all against getting involved in that civil war that has produced 1.2 million refugees and 70,000 dead.
A CBS/New York Times poll found that by 62-to-24 Americans want to stay out of the Syrian war. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that by 61-to-10 Americans oppose any U.S. intervention.
But the numbers shift when the public is asked if it would make a difference if the Syrian regime used poison gas. In that case, opposition to U.S. intervention drops to 44-to-27 in Reuters/Ipsos.
Yet on the Sunday talk shows and cable news, the hawks are over-represented. To have a senator call for arming the rebels and U.S. air strikes is a better ratings "get" than to have on a senator who wants to stay out of the war.
In that same CBS poll, however, the 10 percent of all Americans who say they follow the Syrian situation closely were evenly divided, 47-to-48, on whether to intervene.
The portrait of America that emerges is of a nation not overly interested in what is going on in Syria, but which overwhelmingly wants to stay out of the war.
But it is also a nation whose foreign policy elites are far more interventionist and far more supportive of sending weapons to the rebels and using U.S. air power. From these polls, it is hard not to escape the conclusion that the Beltway elites who shape U.S. foreign policy no longer represent the manifest will of Middle America.
America has not gone isolationist, but has become anti-interventionist. This country does not want its soldiers sent into any more misbegotten adventures like Iraq and Afghanistan, and does not see any vital national interest in who comes out on top in Syria.
But who is speaking up for that great silent majority? Who in the U.S. Senate is on national TV standing up to the interventionists?
Who in the Republican Party is calling out the McCainiacs?
Another story that came out this weekend, smothered by news of Israeli air strikes on Syrian military installations and missile depots, might cool elite enthusiasm -- and kill any public desire to intervene.
"Syrian Rebels May Have Used Sarin Gas," ran the headline in Monday's New York Times. Datelined Geneva, the story began: