October 19th, 2009
12:34 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Will Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam?

Will Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam?
Will Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A slight majority of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan is turning into another Vietnam, according to a new national poll which also indicates that nearly six in 10 oppose sending more U.S. troops to the conflict.

Fifty-two percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday say the eight year long conflict has turned into a situation like the U.S. faced in the Vietnam War, with 46 percent disagreeing.

According to the poll, 59 percent of people questioned opposed sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan with 39 percent in favor. Of the 59 percent opposed, 28 percent want Washington to withdraw all U.S troops, 21 percent are calling for a partial American pullout, and 8 percent say the number of troops should remain the same.

"Has Afghanistan turned into Barack Obama's Vietnam? Most Americans think so, and that may be one reason why they oppose sending more U.S. troops to that country," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Older Americans are most likely to see parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam - possibly because they remember the Vietnam War, rather than reading about it in textbooks."


President Barack Obama and his top military, national security and foreign policy advisers are conducting an intensive strategic review of the U.S. military presence in the war-torn country. The president is weighing a suggestion by the top American military commander in Afghanistan to increase force levels by as many as 40,000 troops.

More than two-thirds of people polled say it's unlikely Afghanistan will have stable government in the next few years. And that was before Monday's release of a United Nations report alleging widespread fraud in the recent Afghanistan elections. According to the survey, around two-thirds also feel that its unlikely that without American assistance, the Afghan military and police will be able to keep their country safe and secure or prevent terrorists from using Afghanistan as a base of operations for planning attacks against the U.S.

The poll indicates that six in 10 Americans feel it's necessary to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States. And a similar number say the conflict in Afghanistan is part of the war against terrorism which began with the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

"That's probably the reason why Afghanistan is still more popular than the war in Iraq," Say Holland. "Many Americans make the connection between 9/11 and Afghanistan, and the public recognizes that there is little chance that the Afghan government can deal with terrorists on its own."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,038 adult Americans questioned by telephone.

The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Afghanistan • CNN poll
soundoff (240 Responses)
  1. Former Army

    I will support the president's decission to send in the necessary troops or even to withdraw. I will not support his INACTION!

    October 19, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Patrick Fuchs

    The only comparision between Vietnam and Afghanistan is the paralleled incompetance of the polictal machines at work in Washington, D.C. If the United States were to have competent leadership (as we did during WWII) this war would have been over in 2003 and we'd be in the process for reconstruction. Who sends 35,000-45,000 troops to an ideological war? We should have sent 200,000 troops in 2001... WE WERE ATTACKED! Now it drags out because there are still ONLY 65,000 troops – many of which are not fighters, but support.

    October 19, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Enough

    The way Obama is running HIS war it will become Vietnam. If the country had elected someone with experience, things would be handled by now. He is jetting off campaigning instead of doing what he was hired to do. Good thing he works for the government, he would have been fired long ago in the private sector.

    October 19, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Terri

    Just once I would love to see a poll showing how much the American people actually know about Afghanistan, or Vietnam. Opinions are worthless without knowledge. Picking " a side" does nothing to help our country. It sickens me to read these comments knowing most people don't really care enough to learn anything.

    October 19, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. Dr. H. Beard

    It is another Vietnam. We supported a corrupt South Vietnamese government, didn't have the support of the common people, and lost 58,000 (est.) great Americans. We need to pack up, and bring the troops home to defend our way of life before we end up fighting in our own streets.

    October 19, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Aaron

    People who think of any of this stuff in terms of "are we safe" or "are they keeping us safe" are easily manipulated.

    October 19, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. larry Day

    We continue to spend billions just to see it either gp to corrupt government workers or just wasted in the area. We lose our young men and women and make little difference.
    Why not use the billions for development here at home and bring the young men and women home to safety? Why do we in America feel
    our way is the only way??
    We will never recoupe the money and lost lives spent on this war that was the idea from Washington and based on political issues?

    October 19, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. aliou

    no to cheatocracy. Bring them back.

    October 19, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. Jeremiah

    It's already getting there. I'm curious though, what about the promise to get out of Iraq? Seems like the president is more interested in ripping on Foxnews then keeping up his campaign promises to get us out of Iraq. Funny how NOT ONE NETWORK focuses on the fact that there is no end in sight in Iraq. Not even the biased foxnews. Why is it being ignored? When Bush is president, we would hear about every death in Iraq and everyone would get enraged and want us out, now, not one news network even discusses Iraq. WHY ARE WE STILL THERE??? AND WHY ARE WE IN AFGHANISTAN???.......always some excuse to keep us there. Apparently the peace loving dems on love peace when a repub is president.

    October 19, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Howard Peterson

    If you are comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam, then bring in the B-52s with some bunker buster bombs and drive them out of the mountain caves so we can get at them – if you want a war over there – then take it to them like its a war, bring them to their knees like we mean business, get it overwith and bring the troops home – until then we will be there for 20 – 30 years as was Russia.

    October 19, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. larry Day

    Well in the words of George Armstrong Custer, "Let's win this war and get the hell out".
    h Well, he died and we did not win Viet Nam so guess the politicians have us back in it again.

    October 19, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. awesom

    Maybe we should ask Bush to get us out of there since they attack a country w/o a reason. What the hevk are we doing in Iraq & Afganistan?

    October 19, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Rick in TX

    As a member of the military I feel that the do nothing UN should take full control of it. We have been there far to long and yes, it is turning into another Vietnam. As you can see by the election results and the resulting recount they are not ready to take control of their own Country. The rest of the world should finish the job. We are not the worlds Police Force.

    October 19, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. mary davis

    ANY troops or intervention in Afghanistan is worse than Vietnam because we should know better by now, I cannot believe we are sending troops there. OUT OUT OUT. Let's stop policing the world and making a mess.

    October 19, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Richard

    The war is bogus and illegal. We have no business there and should leave immediately. Apart from the fictional military threat there is a very real economic drain on the US that does more harm than good, unless of course you are a person who directly benefits from the financing of this conflict. The war in Afghanistan is good for business, but bad for America.

    October 19, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Dave

    Well, last time I checked it was the democrats who took us into Vietnam and it was the democrats who then refused to provide adequate force to win. I am sure that BO intends to do the exact same thing in Afganistan. Why are we always engaged in "unwinnable" wars when the dems are in power?

    October 19, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. terry,va

    Vietnam was a war fought for money grubbing companies that made military supplies. Afghanistan is a war to keep the terrorists at bay. Obummie better get a spine and recognize this.

    October 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. Marshall

    This is a much bigger world threat than Viet Nam and the VC ever were.

    October 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. andy

    This is another Failed policy of the Republican right. The focus should have stayed on Afghanistan to begin with. Anyone who thinks this is "Obama's" war is an idiot. Rush – stay off this website and eat some more Oxocontin.

    October 19, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. chad

    Its simple, send over the man power needed to do the job and forget about getting re elected in 3 years. you cant win a political war.

    October 19, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. LacrosseMom

    Afghanistan is another Bush Disaster! Bush KNEW that Al-Qaeda was hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan........ but........ He attacked IRAQ. Spending TRILLIONS in IRAQ, virtually ignoring ....... Afghanistan!

    Enter a new president, who immediately RAISES the Troop level in Afghanistan! And the GOP complain!

    The British fought in Afghanistan for ........ 80 years. The Soviets for 10 years.

    The U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan for EIGHT YEARS! What has changed?

    The United States can not demand democracy nor fight for "freedom" in Afghanistan! Freedom and Democracy must be brought about the Afghan people who will either choose this path or not!

    PRESIDENT OBAMA END THIS SENSELESS WAR, PLEASE!

    October 19, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Aaron

    If we just sent our A game in the first place this would already be over.

    We are not being fair to our tropps by sending the bare minimum and being politically correct. There are no rules in a war. You do what it takes to win, period.

    If we are not in it to win it we should end it.

    October 19, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. aliou

    The last time we had a president who lips before he thinks, we found ourselves in a war which shouldn't have been: No WMD.

    Now tell me, how much has that silly haste cost our nation in terms of human lives and capital? How much has it cost the nations who supported our stupidity? how much has it cost a nation that didn't attack us (Iraq)?

    Those are the questions. Now Obama can take all the time he wants, so long as in the end, he sets an agenda with definate goal, mission, vision and values attached to it, definate date, and he brings our troups home with a definately short dateline.

    October 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Spirit of America

    Afghanistan is rapidly becoming for the USA what it was for the USSR.
    And that ain't good. Get out now.

    October 19, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. Trinh

    Most of them work for both Taliban and Afghanistani Government so they are secured. The same in Viet Nam when I used to live there. Some of them work for USA and also work for Viet Cong, too. That why the Vietnamese war could not be t won by American.

    October 19, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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