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GOP is again leading the call for action in Iraq

Volunteers in the newly formed "Peace Brigades" raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria during a parade in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad on June 21. The armed group was formed after radical Shiite cleric Muqtatda al-Sadr called to form brigades to protect Shiite holy shrines against possible attacks by Sunni militants. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)

A new CBS News/New York Times poll on Iraq suggests that the American people are quite uncertain about what should be done amid the rise of the al-Qaeda-inspired group ISIS.

Perhaps most notably, though, there is little urgency among Democrats or independents to get involved, suggesting that any push for further involvement will be spurred in large part — yet again — by the political right.

The poll shows majorities of Democrats (51 percent) and independents (55 percent) believe that the United States does not have the responsibility to do something in Iraq, while 52 percent of Republicans say it does.

Similarly, majorities of both Democrats (60 percent) and independents (56 percent) say the violence in Iraq doesn't raise the threat of terrorism against the United States. Six in 10 Republicans say it does increase the threat.

On both questions, Republicans are more hawkish, but there is clearly some support for involvement among all political groups.

Despite this, though, Republicans are clearly more anxious to expand U.S. involvement.

Just 13 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents say President Obama should be doing more, while 53 percent of Republicans agree with this statement.


Obama last week announced that the United States would be sending 300 soldiers to Iraq as advisers, but has thus far stopped short of calling for airstrikes and has ruled out sending combat troops.

The totality of the polls suggest that Obama's political adversaries will be behind much of the push for a bigger presence in Iraq. If it were other Democrats or independents making that case, it might be harder for Obama to resist.

But that doesn't mean that there won't be pressure from all sides.

The CBS/NYT poll also shows that there is more urgency to do something in Iraq than there has been in other recent conflicts. While 26 percent said the United States had responsibility to do something in Syria last year and 32 percent said the same about the clash between Russia and Ukraine this year, significantly more — 42 percent — see a reason for U.S. involvement in Iraq.

That's hardly a chorus, though, and it's pretty clear that the case for further involvement will be pushed mostly by Republicans.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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