Public opinion polls show that people in the United States are skeptical about U.S. attacks on Libya.

The Pew Research Center released a survey on March 28 showing mixed support for the Obama administration’s decision to launch airstrikes against Libya in conjunction with coalition forces.

“After several days of airstrikes on Libya by the United States and its allies, the public has mixed reactions to the military operation. Nearly half of Americans (47 percent) say the United States made the right decision in conducting airstrikes in Libya while 36 percent say it was the wrong decision. Fully one-in-six (17 percent) express no opinion,” said Pew.

“On balance … the public does not think that the U.S. and its allies have a clear goal in taking military action in Libya. Just 39 percent say the U.S. and its allies have a clear goal, while 50 percent say they do not,” reported Pew, which conducted the poll March 24-27.

Americans were split over the purpose of the military operation. Forty-six percent said the goal should be to remove Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi from power. Forty-three percent said the goal should be to protect civilians.

The Pew survey found that 54 percent of Republicans favored airstrikes, compared to 49 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents.

The Pew Research poll paralleled a week-old Gallup poll, taken March 19.

Gallup reported that 47 percent of Americans approved of U.S. military actions in Libya, compared to 37 percent who disapproved and 16 percent who offered no opinion.

American support for involvement in Libya was substantially lower than previous support for military involvement elsewhere in the Islamic world.

Seventy-six percent of Americans approved of the military operation in Iraq, launched March 20, 2003, while only 20 percent disapproved. Ninety percent supported U.S. attacks in Afghanistan that began Oct. 7, 2001.

“Though approval of the current actions against Libya is lower than that for other U.S. military efforts, the level of disapproval is lower than Gallup measured for the Haiti and Kosovo/Balkan situations, and similar to that for Grenada,” said Gallup.

A CBS News Poll found that 68 percent of Americans supported airstrikes to protect civilians. The CBS poll was taken two days after airstrikes began March 19.

“Nearly three in four Americans … said they expected the air strikes to be effective on some level, although respondents’ confidence levels dipped in regard to the extent of the strikes’ predicted success: Just 20 percent of respondents said they thought the strikes would be ‘very effective’ in protecting Libyan citizens, while 54 percent said they thought the actions would be ‘somewhat effective.’ Eighteen percent said they thought the recent military actions in Libya would be not very – or not at all – effective,” said CBS.

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