Poll: About three quarters support bringing troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan

About three-quarters of U.S. adults say they support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan in a new poll commissioned by the libertarian Charles Koch Institute obtained exclusively by The Hill.

In the poll, which surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults, 44 percent said they strongly support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq and 30 percent said they somewhat support doing so.

For Afghanistan, 46 percent said they strongly support bringing troops home and 30 percent said they somewhat support it.

The poll was conducted by YouGov for the Charles Koch Institute, the research institute founded by conservative mega-donor Charles Koch that advocates a noninterventionist foreign policy, including supporting withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Given how polarized the country is on so many other issues, it is striking how unified Americans are on ending our endless wars in the Middle East, prioritizing domestic concerns over foreign ones, and avoiding greater military engagement in conflicts overseas,” Will Ruger, vice president of research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute, said in a statement to The Hill.

“After nearly 20 years of costly and often unnecessary military engagement abroad along with the current challenges facing our country at home, it is a positive sign that the American public increasingly wants to see the United States pursue a more realist foreign policy,” Ruger added.

Asked whether the United States should be more or less involved militarily in global conflicts, 48 percent of respondents said engagement should decrease, while 32 percent said the level of engagement should stay the same and 7 percent said it should increase. Fifty percent of Democrats surveyed said military engagement should decrease, compared to 40 percent of Republicans.

The poll, which was weighted for gender, age, race, and education, has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

The results for Iraq and Afghanistan, collected from July 24 to July 27, represent an uptick from a similar YouGov poll commissioned by the Charles Koch Institute in January. In that poll, 37 percent said they strongly supported and 31 percent said they somewhat supported bringing troops home from Iraq, while 38 percent said they strongly supported and 31 percent said they somewhat supported doing so in Afghanistan.

The January poll also found 27 percent said military engagement should stay about the same, while 52 percent supported less engagement.

The most recent poll comes as President Trump is pushing forward with a withdrawal in Afghanistan that is opposed by members of Congress from both parties.

In line with a deal with the Taliban the Trump administration signed in February, the U.S. military has drawn down to about 8,600 troops. Trump is saying he wants to further draw down to 4,000 to 5,000 troops by Election Day, even as military officials have insisted any further withdrawal will be based on conditions on the ground that have not been met yet.

Lawmakers in a bipartisan vote included in the House’s version of the annual defense policy bill a provision that seeks to slow an Afghanistan withdrawal by requiring the administration to make a series of certifications before any further drawdowns in Afghanistan.

The bill must be reconciled with the Senate’s version, which does not include a similar provision but where senators in both parties have expressed concerns about a precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In Iraq, U.S. officials are negotiating future troops levels with the Iraqi government after Iraqi lawmakers called for a withdrawal. Iraqi opposition to the U.S. presence in their country grew at the beginning of the year after the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil.

There are about 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq helping local forces fight the remnants of ISIS.

The YouGov poll found similar levels of support for withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan across parties. The same percentage of Democrats and Republicans polled, 77 percent of each, said they strongly or somewhat support bringing troops home from Iraq.

For Afghanistan, 78 percent of Democratic respondents said they strongly or somewhat support bringing troops home, compared to 77 percent of Republicans who said the same.

The poll, meanwhile, found more support for the U.S. troops stationed in Europe. Forty percent said the number of troops in Europe should stay the same, compared to 36 percent who said the number should decrease.

Specifically for Germany, 40 percent said the number of troops should stay the same, while 33 percent said it should decrease.

Forty-three percent of Democratic respondents and 46 percent of Republicans said troop numbers should stay the same in both Europe in general and Germany specifically.

Trump ordered a drawdown from Germany as punishment for Berlin not meeting NATO’s goal of spending 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense.

The Pentagon announced last week it would pull about 11,900 troops from Germany, sending about 5,600 elsewhere in Europe and bringing about 6,400 back to the United States.