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. Joey

    Is not going to be to Obama's interest to turn Afghanistan into a vietnam. Lets be reminded that Obama is holding a nobel peace prize, not for what he accomplished, which is nothing, but for they expect him to accomplish. I don't thing the nobel prize commitee made him a favor by giving him the award. He must be under too much pressure.

    October 19, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. Dar

    We must not let the Taliban take this country back over. Al Quida will be free to run bases and tranning facilitys again so they can come and attack us again. I dont understand what some of you people are thinking. No one wants war and no one wants to send their children into harms way but these troops are there because they felt and wanted to protect us. These tropps were not drafted, they signed up for this and they want to WIN what they started. We need to support them and give them what they need to do so. Odumbo needs to wake up and send our troops what they are asking for.

    October 19, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. Steve

    We really need to stop making this comparison. Every time we go to war, we ask the public if it is like Vietnam. Of course they're going to say it is; most people don't know anything about Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They base it all on information they receive from television. In between commentary about Michael Jackson, David Letterman, and balloon boy, Americans are fed 30 second clips of very complex issues. You can't possibly understand they dynamics of Afghanistan in 3 minutes of news each day. Based on the public's level of understanding, these polls are useless.

    October 19, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Melissa

    Ok, I really think we need to put things into perspective here. Afghanistan is NOT another Vietnam and here's why. For 8 years, everything for the country was put on hold. The country languished with few troops, and no concerted effort to do anything while the previous administration focused on Iraq. When we have been in Afghanistan for as long as we were in Iraq AND we have been actually TRYING to do something instead of sitting on our hands like we have been, then and only then can you call it another Vietnam.

    October 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. Delta75

    Ask anyone who served as a ground-pounding "grunt" in Vietnam. This is Viet Nam all over again. Only the terrain has changed. A corrupt government that does nothing for their people, the poor people in the countryside trying to stay alive between two warring factions, and borders across which the enemy can move for protection. We learn nothing from history. Bernard Fall, in his book "Street without Joy" warned us to learn from the French and stay out of Vietnam....we didn't and look where it got us. Now many Vietnam vets are wondering why we learned nothing from Vietnam. "Good Morning Afghanistan"!!!!

    October 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. j.r.

    how is this another Vietnam other than it's a war that's been going on for nearly a decade. Casualties are extremely low compared to Vietnam, and there's no draft which was a huge issue during the Vietnam War. Additionally there are much higher stakes with the recent incursions into Pakistan (who I'm guessing many people forget posses nuclear weapons). People want to say, hey our original mission was to get OBL, that's all we should be doing and then get out, neglecting to acknowledge the severity of what would happen if Pakistan were to fall to the Taliban.

    October 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. David

    NOTHING LIKE VIETNAM! Not to mention a couple years ago that's all people said about the surge in Iraq was that it was another Vietnam. From a soldier who has been there on the ground and has met the Taliban and Al Qeada I can tell you it is not Vietnam and we are winning! What we needed years ago was less soldiers in Iraq and more in Afghanistan. The major issues we face there are weapons coming in from Iran and the tribal regions in Pakistan which are sanctuaries for Taliban and Al Qeada. We now watch and intercept weapons from Iran and I think we've finally got the Paki's to start ridding the frontier area of Taliban. We will win this but not if Washington ignores the generals like the politicians did in Vietnam. Politicians can't win a war let the generals and troops do it.

    October 19, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Vietnam Veteran 1

    Yes, a very similar war shaping up as in Vietnam. I was there. Sending more troops into harm’s way is a very tough decision to make. The attitude should be all or nothing. If the Brass says they need more troops it is a military need and not political compromise as it turned into in Vietnam. If we go on with the war and do not send more troops for military needs, then I hope it is not one of your family loved ones who gets into a fire fight and looks around and there is no one behind them.

    October 19, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. Jack

    Sure the polls recognize that all it takes to make a Vietnam is a Democrat. I bet they are trying to find a McNamara clone to replace Gates.

    October 19, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Carlston

    No it will not be "another" Vietnam. Even the Russian Afgani war is not a good basis for this place. Honestly, Vietnam was divided into two factions. Afgan is run by the most murderous warlord with the biggest posse.

    But if we forget the reason Afgan fell into chaos after we helped them beat the Russian was the fact we didn't help create a goverment we just washed our hands of it....

    So have to do it right and that takes time.

    October 19, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. ICARE

    Obama is doing fine... .... It is up to the peopel to figure out what they want to do and it is up to US and the rest of the chicken world to make sure that it is not a breeding ground for extremists....

    October 19, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Obama should read: "Lessons in Disaster" by Gordon
    Goldstein. This is a no win situation. Afghan culture is
    totally different from that of western nations. Obama
    would do well to remove all personnel from harm's
    way in all possible haste. Otherwise, it will be a
    repeat of the Russian experience of a decade ago.

    October 19, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. son b

    Before Obama agrees to send troops to Afghanistan, I hope he weighs all the possible outcome of the mission. Yes, Al Quieda is a threat. But after we eliminate Al Quieda, another one takes it's place, and then another, then another, By the time we're through, America will be in depression. Nobody will have anymore jobs. Mass histeria, civil unrest, maybe martial law will be passed. In short, they win. America is ruined. Why not contain the terrorist over there until we finish fixing the US. We have too much trouble over here before starting another conflict overseas. Fix the economy, the job market, the reputation stained by Bush to other countries, immigration, Nation's debt, Medicare, Social Security, Taxes, State Bankruptcy, Federal Regulations, Prison overload, Teacher's layoffs, homelessness, etc.,etc. You ever think about stuff like retirement when you get old. There won't be one because social security will be exhausted because of the war funds.

    October 19, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Steve, New York City

    Comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam does not really make sense.

    Vietnam was a "proxy war" between the USA and Communism.

    Afghanistan is a mess – and if we just leave, maybe someone WAY WORSE than Bin Laden will walk out of there . . . with a couple of nuclear brief-cases, bound for major US cities. War is a terrible thing, but Dick Cheney and his 2-faced "criminal" Neo-con buddies lured the dim-witted into believing that war in Iraq was somehow far more critical than the Taliban problem. . . .funny how you never see Wolfowitz, "pushing" his putrid Iraq war these days.

    October 19, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Chuck

    The problem in Afghanistan is the corrupt regime installed and then ignored by the Bush Adminstration. It rests on warloads and toleration of poppy production, and stuffed ballot boxes. It is not clear how any number of American troops are going to "help" that kind of government win the hearts and minds of its people. It is unclear how anything can or will work under Karzai. This has been pretty clear for the past five years. The next problem is no matter how many troops the US sends to Afghanistan, even with a non-corrupt government there, little will be accomplished if Pakistan continues to support the Taliban in Afghanistan as a counterbalance to India. Another problem is that America invaded Afghanistan to get at Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden evidently moved years ago to our "ally" Pakistan, where until Obama nothing much was done to dislodge him. But putting more troops in Afghanistan is not going to dislodge Osama from Pakistan, at least in any way spelled out to me as a taxpayer.

    October 19, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. Carnell From Detroit, MI USA

    It's Hypocri...CNN! With Another Poll, And Disinginuous Talking Point. The Self-Proclaimed Best Political Team On Television. The Only Question Is Anybody Surprised With Your Data?

    October 19, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. JOEDEM

    Where were all you people during the Bush Administration?? Did you just regain your sight and hearing once Obama became President ??
    Remember when Bush told reporters in one of his yearly news conferences, "I'm not concerned with bin Laden anymore"..Anybody??

    October 19, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Bill, Mi

    Vietnam no, 9/11 and Al Quida yes, but on the other hand Obie loves these people. [Brothers in arms, destory Amarica just what Obama wants]

    October 19, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Len

    Without a draft this is no where close to being like the Vietnam War.The whole country has not participated in this conflict nor the Irag conflict.

    October 19, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Damien

    Bush successfully hoodwinked the American public into equating Al-Qaeda with the Taliban. Most analysts believe the A-Q presence in Afghanistan is minimal to nonexistant. The fear that AF will again be used as a base for terrorists should be equal with the fear that any of two dozen other countries could also be used. It is time to leave the god-forsaken place – with the message that we reserve the right to carpet bomb any terrorists camps. Al Qaeda wants us to stay.

    October 19, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. John C.

    Bush already lost this war. Anything Obama does is an improvement. We may have to admit defeat, but the fault does not belong to Obama!

    October 19, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. Gary Andersen, Northridge, CA 91325

    Surprising that more people can't see this but this is a no win situation. It won't matter if we send 40,000 more troops. We are dealing with something that we either take over the whole country or leave. Americans just don't understand the patience of these people. We deal in now, they deal in whenever. This is their country, we are the outside force trying to make a corrupt government legitimate in the eyes of the people that live there. What a joke. It is time for the American people to realize we can no longer secure our borders by invading other countries or force democracy in places that don't want democracy. Extremist Islamic forces are behind this insurgency. We are losing to many of our valued resourses ( our brave troops) on a place that is not worth the mountain that it is built on. Just ask the Russians.,

    October 19, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  23. Army Fiancee

    It is possible to be pro-troop and anti-war. I happen to be marrying an active duty soldier and have found that most soldiers oppose the war.

    October 19, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. albert

    Its not like Vietnam, we should stay there until the job is done! We should have stayed in there and not of gone after Saddam, I blame bush for this whole thing!

    October 19, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. Dave P

    The wars have nothing in common except for some guerilla tactics. We need more troops over there! Lets hit em hard now so we can bring our troops back!

    October 19, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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