Policy & Strategy

Poll shows American support for US involvement in Afghanistan tanking

Nearly 60 percent of all Americans think the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, with more than 50 percent saying U.S. troops should withdraw even if Afghan forces are not ready to fend for themselves.

The results were part of a Washington Post-ABC News poll released late Sunday. Support for the decade-long war has continued to fall across the board among Republicans, Democrats and independents, according to the poll. 

{mosads}While disapproval of the war has been somewhat constant among Democrats, hovering between 61 percent and 68 percent, Republicans have seen a steep drop in support since 2009.

At that time, Republican backing of the war effort stood at 74 percent. Republicans are now evenly split, at 47 percent, on whether the war in Afghanistan has been worth the cost to the country, according to the new poll. Further, 55 percent of those polled believe most Afghans do not support U.S. and coalition efforts in the country.

Those numbers are likely to go even higher in the wake of Sunday’s unprovoked attack on Afghan civilians by an American soldier.

The solider, who is now in the custody of U.S. military officials, killed 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting spree on Sunday. The attack drew outrage from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and fanned growing anti-American sentiment within the country. The attack comes weeks after the accidental burning of Qurans by U.S. forces that ignited a wave of violence against United States and coalition forces.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said a “full investigation is already underway” and said he offered “Karzai my assurances that we will bring those responsible to justice,” according to an official DOD statement. “We will spare no effort in getting the facts as quickly as possible, and we will hold any perpetrator who is responsible for this violence fully accountable under the law,” Panetta said.

In light of these incidents, 54 percent of those polled believe U.S. troops should begin pulling out of Afghanistan, whether or not Afghan forces are ready to handle security operations in the country. Despite the precarious nature of U.S.-Afghan relations, military leaders have already begun to transition control of security ops to the Afghans, in preparation for an anticipated withdrawal by 2014. 

U.S. commanders on Friday agreed to hand over control of the terrorist detention facility in Parwan to Afghan control. However, Senate Armed Services Committee member Scott Brown (R-Mass.) expressed concern that the Afghans were not up to the task.

“I don’t think they have the capacity, at this point, based on my personal observations, to assume the security of these detention facilities,” he said during a committee hearing last Tuesday. 


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