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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid