By Jeremy Herb - 03/15/12 08:42 PM EDT
Just one-quarter of the public thinks the United States has a responsibility to intervene in Syria, a new poll released Thursday found.
The survey from the Pew Research Center found 25 percent of respondents thought the United States had a responsibility to get involved in Syria, while 64 percent did not.
Only 25 percent of those polled favored a bombing campaign by the United States and its allies to protect opposition groups, and 29 percent supported sending arms to the Syrian rebels.
As Assad’s forces have stepped up violence in rebel strongholds, however, a group of hawkish senators led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have called for arming the rebels and launching airstrikes to dismantle Syrian air defenses.
The administration has been frequently pointing out that the situation is different than when the United States got involved in Libya last year, helping the rebels force Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power. Libya’s military was not as strong as Sryia's, officials say, and the rebels were more united.
The public also opposed the intervention in Libya. In a Pew poll taken in March of 2011, 27 percent of respondents thought there was a responsibility to intervene in Libya, while 63 percent did not.
An even smaller number — 16 percent — thought the United States should be bombing Libyan air defenses.
The public support for intervening in Libya and Syria is lower than it was for previous conflicts, Pew found. Fifty-one percent of the public supported intervening in Darfur in 2006, 47 percent backed getting involved in Kosovo in 1999 and 30 percent supported intervention in Bosnia in 1995, according to past Pew polls.
The latter two conflicts have been cited repeatedly by McCain in his push for U.S. intervention in Syria.