Poll: United States Should Respond to Rising Violence in Iraq

Posted: Aug 18, 2014 4:05 PM

With a humanitarian crisis forcing thousands of minority Iraqis to flee from Islamic State forces, American public opinion on the United States' involvement in Iraq has shifted.

USA TODAY/Pew Research poll found that 44%-41% of those surveyed say the U.S. should "do something" about the violence. Only a month ago, majority opinion (55%-39% of those surveyed) said the U.S. has no responsibility in the matter.

Americans still fear a long term commitment to the region less than three years after withdrawing troops. 

A 51% majority are more concerned that the U.S. will go too far in getting involved. About a third, 32%, say their greater concern is that the U.S. will not go far enough in stopping the Islamic militants.

68 airstrikes have been conducted in Iraq since August 8 and the survey showed that most Americans (54%-31%) approve of them. 

The United States has recently been involved in delivering humanitarian aid to Iraqi refugees. Earlier this month, President Obama ordered airstrikes and humanitarian aid for the Yazidi refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar. Last week while on vacation, President Obama said that they had succeeded in easing the crisis. 

Christopher Gelpi, a political scientist at Ohio State University who studies public opinion toward military conflicts, told USA TODAY:

"The public attitude seems to reflect very much the kind of attitude that you heard from Obama when he was justifying the airstrikes," Gelpi says. "The president was very much in sync in feeling we ought to try to do something but we shouldn't do too much. Whether the president is leading the public, or whether the president has his finger in the wind and understands where the public is at, is hard to say."