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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More