October 19th, 2009
12:34 PM ET
4 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. Kathy

    I don't love wars the way Dick Cheney does, hated our unilateral invasion of Iraq, but Afgaistan is necessary. That is where the terrorists are. This is who we should have been fighting in the first place. There was no legitimate reason to go to Iraq, this is different. And no it is nothing like Viet Nam, but the media does love to stir up controversy.

    October 19, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. Albright

    I think we should pull out of Afghanistan, when the russians were there fighting the talibans we were against and now we are doing the same thing if it was wrong for them why it's right for us to do?

    October 19, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    End this colonial war. Bring our kids home now! No more wars for profit.

    October 19, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. Jay

    It is wrong to even compare war in Afghnaistan with war in Vietnam because the Vietnamese were never terrorists, they just defended their country against the invaders, whereas Al Qieda and Taliban are terrorists of the worst kind. Therefore, victory and defeat in Afghanistan are only the figments of the poticians' imagination! The quicker we can get out of Afghanistan the quicker the victory will come to us. Just keep educating and trainingthe Afghans to help fight their own war and bring changel. Costs much less money to do that!

    October 19, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Patriot

    There are, indeed, many parallels between the situation in Afghanistan and Vietnam. Clueless politicians trying to micro-manage the military; no military strategy, let alone an exit strategy; a corrupt national government that can't relate to free market capitalism or to democratic ideals; no significant measurable results since the original intention was to take the war to the perpetrators of 9/11 and their friends and find and snuff Osama; no compelling National interest other than to prosecute some vague "war on terrorism"; an embedded press that's only interested in getting their stories on CNN; and now popular support going down the drain. Alexander the Great couldn't sort the place out, nor could the Brits, nor could the Soviets. And WE think WE can? For WHAT? This is just hubris! All we need to complete the study in history repeating itself is peace with dishonor - and a Nobel Peace Prize, with Oak Leaf Cluster. Afghanistan is not worth one more American life. Support the Afghanistination of the war, help Pakistan, and fly those predators snuffing bad guys for a long, long time - but otherwise, it's time to pull the plug on this one.

    October 19, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Gary Raeford NC

    Wow
    Most post do not have a clue! They read like most have not served in the U.S.Military
    Afganistan and Vietnam have a lot of in common Vietnam was the fear of communist ruling the world and Afghanistan is about the fear of radical islam ruling the world.
    Vietnam War started in 1946 when the French ousted the Viet Minh from power. Our involvement started in 1950 and ended in 1975
    In the early 1960's the Kennedy adminstration advocated the use of special forces for counterinsurgency warfare.
    Sound familiar
    Remember! the price of OUR freedom is not free. It has cost the lives of many U.S. Military over the years.
    We all should be supporting Our Soldiers that are serving there

    October 19, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. yep

    It will be if they don't make some solid decisions soon, put the generals who know what they are doing in charge and let them go at it. Go in to win, destroy and get out.

    October 19, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. brian

    in terms of loss of life, no vietnam

    in terms of looking to be a stalmate, yes.

    the soviets had a millitary that was just as poweful as the USA, and they were unable to succeed in the region. it's time to get out of that pit.

    October 19, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Donna Westmoreland

    I thoroughly agree. We need to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan!! Our troops need a respite and time home with their families and our country need to heal and restore!! We can't keep going over to fight other peoples battles(when most of the time they don't want us there to begin with!) and meanwhile our own country is going to peices!!! Bring our troops home and lets turn our nation back to God and we will see a HUGE improvement in this United States of America.

    October 19, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. RRRUSA

    Afganistan was already BUSH'S Vietnam when he dumped it on Obama. Bush did not have the foresight to note that War in Afganistan was one reason for the fall of the USSR, they almost went bankrupt fighting there, and that was when Bush had Osama Bin Laden working for US!
    This is not Obama's war, he is trying to make the best of a mess he was left with. This is a country ruled by warlords with a president but no central authority, yet a country that floods the world with opium so it must be dealt with. A cooperative approach involving even Russia may be needed to stop the Taliban and Al Qaeida before they fill even more power vacuumns in this country.

    October 19, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. 52% of Americans are retarded

    I don't think the general American populace should be asked questions like this since only approximately 1% of all americans serve in any of the armed forces. And the difference between this conflict and Vietnam is that we've learned to stand behind our troops even if the administration is wrong to send them. Always keep in mind that your men and women in uniform stand up to serve so the rest of our country will stay safe. They don't choose to go to war, they choose to protect the lives and freedoms of their loved ones. Maybe before taking part in a poll like this everyone should try serving in an armed conflict for a while and then see what they think.

    October 19, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Sgt. USMC

    More like another IRAQ (thank bush for that one). Just let the man do his job. We voted him in to office to run the country so let's back off and give him the time he needs to fix this mess that bush couldn't fix in 6 years.

    October 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. JM

    Why does the media keep reffering to the Afgan war as Obama's? I do believe, Obama inherited this war from,... who was that again, oh yeah, it was Junior.

    October 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. CW in PSL

    Has Afghanistan turned into Barack Obama's Vietnam?
    If the media wants it to be...it will be! Just like health care reform is supposed to be his Waterloo! I woner what the Baloon Boy is up to today!

    October 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. Alex

    This war in Afghanistan is somewhat starting to look like another Vietnam in that the Obama administration wants it's cake and eat it too. Much like Vietnam, there is a half hearted effort by the administration to provide our men and women of the military what they need. The reason? They are afraid if things get worse even with an additional 40,000 soldiers, that it will hurt them politically. They are actually more worried about political points than the lives of our soldiers. On the flip side, the Afghans have but one interest and it is the same interest they"ve had for hundreds of years....money and the drugs they grow. The sooner Obama realizes Afghanistan's history is about Warlords and drugs, the sooner he'll realize you can't change their government or their inherent way of life. Look how long it took the Russians to realize they can't win in that environment.

    October 19, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. charles humm

    Obama and company seem incapable of making any decision, and meanwhile our troops are dying because of their incompetence.

    Let the generals run the war–Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the cut and run crowd know absolutely nothing about the mission or the military.

    When we let politicians run the war, our soldiers die and the United States loses. Politicians and the media lost the war in Vietnam and it looks to me like politicians and the media will do it again in Afghanistan.

    The consequence of losing in Afghanistan is bold terrorists and a certain catasrophic attack on the U.S.

    Obama sickens me.

    October 19, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. g.g.

    This may not be another Vietnam, but it is becoming a killing field for so many young people, when are we going to reach the the conclusion that we cannot change the moral and spiritual values of a soverign country. the russians learned the hard way by losing thousands of troops. We should remove the troops as quick as possible and let the afghanis resolve their own problems. How would you feel if another country decided to come and change the way you run your way of life.

    October 19, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. JonDie

    Karzai is a fraud and more importantly a loser. No more U.S. troops should be sent, and we should be begin to plan our withdrawals. If Afghanis want to be free of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, let Afghanis start to do the heavy lifting.

    October 19, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Thormohlen

    If you do any extensive reading on Afghanistan, it is evident that the country consists of warring factions who will change their loyalties for tthe right price. With all of our technology, it is incredible that we have not taken out Obama. If our goal is a stable democratic government, forget it. We are wasting our money and our blood in this worthless country. We could spend the next 100 years chasing the bad guys but they will still be there.

    October 19, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. buckwheat

    Only if we let General Obama run the war as we did General Johnson ,General Mc Namara and General Nixon during Vietnam.If you figure on talking them to death forget it. Bring the B52's back and quit worrying about collateral damage just as the enemy does not worry about collateral damage.They use it as a weapon of war againest our soldiers in the name of their God. It will boil down to who makes whose country glow in the dark before this war is won.

    October 19, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. Jack

    The Russians spent 10 years there and finally pulled out. They couldn't get them under control, so that should tell us something. We're using different tactics though, so I thought maybe we'd succeed but it doesn't look good.

    October 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. DFS

    I am of the Vietnam generation. Remember the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington?? And amazingly, we are currently in an economic partnership with our former "enemy". How many more American children must die before we remove ourselves from this fiasco?

    October 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Bman

    I don't care about the taliban, I don't care about Afghanistan. The taliban can not hurt us unless we send our people there and try and tell them how to live their lives. They can have the whole country in my opinion, let them march around and have parades... who cares?

    Americans have become a nation of scared weaklings afraid something under the bed is gonna come out and get them.

    October 19, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. Robin Rocklin

    Lets see - hundreds of billions spent, thousands maimed and killed, a corrupt and unsupported government, no end in sight, escalation of violence, a long history of defeating invaders. Sound just like Vietnam to me. If we think Afghanistan is a threat to us, wouldn't we be better off investing all that money on security at home rather than security there? After all, terrorist are all over the globe, not just Afghanistan.

    October 19, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. Thomas

    1. What is the objective of the AF conflict?

    2. How will we measure progress/lack of progress with respect to the objectives?

    3. What is the exit criteria for success/failure?

    These are the questions that need to be answered.

    October 19, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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