Date of Completion


Thesis Advisor(s)

Jennifer Sterling-Folker; Mark Boyer

Honors Major

Political Science

Second Honors Major

Individualized Major


Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures


Since the beginning of the 21st century, the world has suffered through several humanitarian crises. Few have captured the attention and imagination of Americans quite like the crises in Darfur, Libya, and Syria have. As each situation has developed – and the violence in each place has come to light – Americans have spent long hours debating the merits of intervention in each place. Americans seemed to support an intervention in Darfur, had mixed feelings about an intervention in Libya, and opposed intervention in Syria. This thesis asks why the American public has had different reactions to each crisis. It analyzes the public opinion polls that dealt with each conflict, and searches for trends. Finally, this thesis asks whether the reasons behind the discrepancies in American public opinion are local or global, humanitarian or political. In regards to these three conflicts, Americans seem most likely to support intervention when there are international organizations or coalitions that support the intervention, and when the logistics and specific costs and procedures of the intervention are released before the actual intervention begins.