By Ian Swanson - 06/20/11 09:15 AM EDT
An overwhelming number of voters believe the United States is involved in too many foreign conflicts and should pull back its troops, according to a new poll conducted for The Hill.
Seventy-two percent of those polled said the United States is fighting in too many places, with only 16 percent saying the current level of engagement represented an appropriate level. Twelve percent said they weren’t sure.
Thirty-seven percent said the continued presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan makes no impact on national security, while another 17 percent said it makes the United States less safe. By contrast, 36 percent said the United States is safer because forces are in Afghanistan.
The findings reflect a fatigue with war after a decade dominated by U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan that are now unwinding. War fatigue was also highlighted by House votes last month on Afghanistan in which more Republicans than ever before supported withdrawing U.S. troops immediately.
Those findings were echoed when voters were asked about Iraq.
Forty percent said the military intervention in Iraq has made no difference when it comes to U.S. safety, compared to 32 percent who said the United States is safer because of it. Twenty percent said the country is less safe because of action in Iraq.
The United States has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and 50,000 support troops and military advisers in Iraq. U.S. forces are supporting NATO air strikes in Libya after initially playing a frontline role, and are also involved in counter-terrorism actions in Pakistan and Yemen.
Republicans are more likely than Democrats to think the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have made the United States safer, but a significant number of Republican voters think the country is either less safe or there has been no impact.
Forty-five percent of Republicans said the United States is safer because of involvement in Afghanistan, compared to 28 percent who said it has had no impact, 14 percent who say the country is less safe and 13 percent who say they aren’t sure.
On Iraq, 43 percent of Republicans say involvement has made the United States safer, compared to 34 percent who say it has had no impact, 14 percent who say it is less safe and 9 percent who say they aren’t sure.
U.S. forces are scheduled to make a full withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but many voters would like to see troops pull out more quickly.
Forty-one percent said the 2014 timetable is too slow, compared to 36 percent who said it was about right. Eleven percent said U.S. troops are being withdrawn too quickly.
While Republicans were more likely than Democrats to see that timetable as being too swift, a large percentage in both parties believe it is too slow.
Thirty-five percent of Republicans think the timetable is too slow, compared to 45 percent of Democrats.
The poll also reveals some skepticism about whether U.S. troops will really be removed from Iraq by the end of the year.
Forty-nine percent said it is not very likely that troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, and another 10 percent said it is not at all likely. Seven percent said it is very likely troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, and 22 percent said it is somewhat likely.
U.S. and Iraqi negotiators agreed in the Status of Forces Agreement that all U.S. troops must leave Iraq by the end of 2011, though U.S. officials have said it’s possible some forces could remain to fill in gaps in Iraqi security.
The poll was conducted June 16 by Pulse Opinion Research and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.