News / USA

Polls Show Americans Weary of Afghan Conflict

An Army carry team carries the transfer cases containing the remains of Army Spc. Scott D. Smith of Indianapolis, Indiana upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware on June 21, 2011.
An Army carry team carries the transfer cases containing the remains of Army Spc. Scott D. Smith of Indianapolis, Indiana upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware on June 21, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio

The beginning of the expected drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan follows a steady decline in American public support for a war that has gone on for nearly 10 years.

When he ran for president in 2008, then candidate Barack Obama promised to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, a war he opposed, and to strengthen the U.S. effort against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

In late 2009, the president announced he was sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, a move that was unpopular with some members of his own Democratic Party.

In the past two years, domestic support for the war in Afghanistan has weakened considerably.  A recent poll found that 64 percent of those surveyed believe the Afghan war is no longer worth fighting.  In late 2009, that number was 44 percent.

Bipartisan opposition

Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich is a longtime opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of U.S. involvement in the NATO mission in Libya.

"Things are falling apart at home while we are searching the world looking for dragons to slay," said Kucinich.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, right, answers a question during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate on June 13, 2011.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, right, answers a question during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate on June 13, 2011.

In recent weeks, war fatigue over Afghanistan has also crept into the debate among the Republican presidential contenders for 2012, including the frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

"But I also think we have learned that our troops should not go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation," noted Romney. "Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban."

Even the latest Republican to join the race, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, says the United States should be more aggressive in drawing down troop levels in Afghanistan.  Huntsman spoke to NBC's Today program.

"What we need now is a healthy dose of nation-building here at home," said Huntsman.  "Our core is weak.  We need to focus on getting our own house in order right here."

Shifting priorities

Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown says during a period of several months national-opinion surveys have shown a growing level of war weariness among the American public.

"I do not think there is any doubt in Afghanistan, the involvement in Iraq and now the involvement in Libya has for many Americans raised questions about the wisdom of these policies," said Brown.

It is not just that Americans have tired of the Afghan conflict.  They also see much more important priorities at home, especially reviving the U.S. economy, says expert Stephen Hess with the Brookings Institution.

"A trio of wars is not exactly what Americans are interested in at this time when they have a very full platter of problems at home," said Hess.

Budget drain

Many Americans believe the war commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq are also a major budget drain on the U.S. government at a time when many Americans are struggling economically.

Political analysts say the U.S. commitment to the Afghan war could become an issue in next year's presidential campaign, especially for anti-war Democrats who are pressing for a speedier exit from Afghanistan.

Analyst Stuart Rothenberg spoke to VOA's Encounter program about the impact of Afghanistan on next year's U.S. presidential election.

"Are we going to have stable environments?" Rothenberg asked.  "Are we going to have talk about terrorists being allowed to gather and train?  So I think this is another huge problem for the president.  The problem here is clearly on his left with the anti-war element of the Democratic Party thinking that the president has violated a promise and a reason why they supported him in the last election."

President Obama received a modest boost in the polls following the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.  But that bump has largely dissipated as Americans refocus on the struggling domestic economy and a stubbornly high unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid