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. Donald Hochanadel, Sr.

    There is only one way to fight a war. TO WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Our cowards in Washington are going to kill a lot more of our soldiers by trying to talk their way out of this.

    October 19, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. phoenix86

    Obama's calling for a cleaner election before he commits to the Afghan government. Too bad he doesn't ask the same in the case of Iran.

    October 19, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. Brad

    We could all just let Obama weigh the consequences and make an informed decision.

    A good leader is not always one that makes quick, but rather informed decisions.

    War is not a simple matter.

    October 19, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. David in Houston

    This war is nothing like Vietnam.

    Thank goodness Obama will be making his decisions based on recommendations from military professionals and not the 52% who obviously have no recollection of what the Vietnam conflict was all about.

    Absolutely ridiculous...

    October 19, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. B

    Don’t listen to what the American people want though, just like health care as well..

    October 19, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. Ted Ward

    No Afghanistan is not at all like Vietnam. No jungles, No cold war. No north/south division. No enemy air force or anti-aircraft missiles. No international block supporting the enemy. The hard core Taliban and al queda need to be wiped out and deprived of home base territory. The state of Afghanistan needs two decades of flat out very careful undisguised nation building so that the whole place doesn't descend into chaos again. The days when Afghanistan could remain a semi governed patchwork of crude warlord dominated tribal fiefdoms has ended. We have no choice but to make sure that the place is ruled and somewhat civilized by the Afghan people themselves whether they like it or not. They're just going to have to step up to the job! September 11th made this all mandatory. That's just the way it is and no political shuffling around will change it.

    October 19, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. Chanel is dumb

    Vietnam was a fluke and so is this war
    i respect the troops greatly but not bush who sent them in the first place and now obama has to deal with bus's dumb mistakes

    October 19, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. KC

    Anytime the politicians think they know better than the generals on the field how to fight a war then we will have problems. Also, I would like to point out that Obama can't relate to Vietnam as he was (1) too young; and (2) living in another country. Let the military fight this war and tell the politicians to do what they do best....taking bribes and funds from lobbyists and fighting amongst themselves.

    October 19, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  9. Tom C

    Just like Vietnam, military could not cross DMZ in Vietnam and they can't go into Pakistan in Afgan. Hey you Hawks of the republican party. We allready invaded Iraq, had to in your opinion to get Saddam. Gee, we could have gotten him when Bush Sr. was in office. Let's invade Pakistan so we can get all the terrorists. War hawks are pathetic. They want to be bullies of the world.

    October 19, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. Doug, New Jersey

    It is never good to have a Democrat president running a war, but the people who attacked us on 9/11 were able to train freely and plan their attack from this country. We cannot allow that again. Obama knows this, but he also knows that everyone who would vote for him has forgotten 9/11 and believes that Americans who disagree with this administration are the terrorists, not the ones who took down the towers and attacked the Pentegon.

    October 19, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Mark Kocon

    This WAR is already another Vietnam, why fight a war that can not be won. It's time we bring our troops home and start rebuilding the USA, let someone else fight this war. The people we put into office need to wake up.

    October 19, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. A 50-year Democrat no more. Now an independent with brains.

    YES MOST DEFINETLY – This from a veteran of thirty years and two tours in Vietnam. I listened and read what the American people had to say while we were facing death every day. Our forefathers would turn over in their graves for what cowards our country has turned into. We would have won the war in Vietnam in half the time we were there if for not the media, hippies and draftdodgers. Your falling into the same trap. NO SUPPORT, NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT, BLASPHEMING OUR SOLDIERS FOR BEING THERE. IF YOU'D ONLY OPEN YOUR EYES AND READ THE BIBLE THEN YOU'D KNOW. THE MUSLIMS ARE OUT TO DESTROY ALL INFIDELS. COME ON BABY BOOMERS GET SOME GUTS AND SAVE OUR TROOPS AND AMERICA NOW. DON'T TAKE ANY MORE 911s.

    October 19, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Michael Hsu

    Wow, first vietnam, then afghanistan. Liberals stop at nothing to undermine the sacrifices of US armed forces.

    October 19, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Christopher

    We already have the new Vietnam, it's called Iraq. Where were all this people concerned about our troops dying in vain, when we got ourselves into illegal war? Now we are actually going after the people who are truly our enemies & we want to take them out of the fight. I guess the moral of this story, for the rest of the world to take, is that the American's will always try to do what's right, but only if it's easy!

    October 19, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. Sid

    I think President Obama needs to get back out on the campaign trail. Well, what else does this guy do? I thought he was elected to get us out of all these wars. It didn't work under Bush and it isn't working now. More troops will only lead to more useless deaths. Pull out now before it is too late. We wasted the chance of gettting Bin Laden. Mr. President make a decision and stick to it. Stop flipping a coin to see how your approval ratings will handle the decision. Be a President and not a Hollywood star.

    What next? I bet Obama will join Linked In and Twitter and Tweet the US. His first set of Tweets: "I'm reading my daily brief and flipping a coin to decide if I make a decision or find a way to get back to the campaign trail." " I am so addicted to the rush just being on that campaign bus." "Need a new slogan for 2012 – The world won't end, but change is still in progress." "No, how about – I won't let the world end. I've still got work to do."

    October 19, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. aware

    peace will never be achieved through violence
    peace will only be achieved through understanding

    why can't we get over war already?

    October 19, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. Robert

    In Vietnam we did not go into the neigboring country of Cambodia where the enemy was using it as a supply line. We are attacking the enemy in Pakistan. If we would have been more aggresive in the Vietnam war we could have won. You don't win wars by fighting with one hand tied behind your back and the media wanting you to give up and go home.

    October 19, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. Lou

    It seems that it already has.

    October 19, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. BM

    Current President must DECIDE to go into Afghanistan and effectively with FULL-SUPPORT – "til the end" (unlike vietnam) and kick ass OR don't go there at all, with a clean break.
    This "half-ass" dragging-on charade is costing AMERICA alot of money, not to mention, it makes us look even weaker. IF the majority of AMERICA has transformed into bunch of scaredyCat sissys, then even if we do go there, it will end badly, just like Vietnam.
    We either UNITE into Full Committment OR Dont even start.

    October 19, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. W l Jones

    If some of these media people got a real job and stop sturrup trouble around the world it would better for everyone.

    October 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Donovan Colbert

    All we need to do is compare how long we were in Viet Nam with how long we've been in Afghanistan and how many U.S. deaths and how many U.S. dollars have been invested in either war.

    Clearly, Afghanistan is *not* "another" Viet Nam. This kind of tired rhetoric is simply offensive and diminishes our memory of what a tragic event Viet Nam truly was.

    October 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. JUST DO IT!!

    SUPPORT THE TROOPS! They still need our support!

    October 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. margie w.

    Some things never change and this "War" is one of them. The Brits and Italians are tired and China will never help. We are draining the life out of our own country by not meeting its citizens needs and providing them opportunity for a good job.
    Who cares about another country when you can't put a decent meal on the table for your family and live the "American Dream". Most of them don't want us over there and are angry at us for already eliminating many of their loved ones "by accident".
    They are now recruiting 7 and 12 year olds to be suicide bombers because we are there! There is always an excuse as to why "we just can't leave yet" but there are many reasons as to why we should.

    October 19, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. KENYA

    the draft would divide our country with texas leading the way. us troops must be 500 thousand strong and only way to get those numbers is to inact the draft which will force black folks and muslims to decide.

    October 19, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. Mr. Speaker

    Afghanistan is NOT similar to Vietnam. Folks who think that it is are too lazy to educate themselves and apparently feel quite comfortable being mindless, Media monkeys.

    October 19, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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