CNN Poll: Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history
December 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
8 months ago

CNN Poll: Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history

Washington (CNN) – Support for the war in Afghanistan has dipped below 20%, according to a new national poll, making the country's longest military conflict arguably its most unpopular one as well.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that a majority of Americans would like to see U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan before the December 2014 deadline.

Just 17% of those questioned say they support the 12-year-long war, down from 52% in December 2008. Opposition to the conflict now stands at 82%, up from 46% five years ago.

"Those numbers show the war in Afghanistan with far less support than other conflicts," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Opposition to the Iraq war never got higher than 69% in CNN polling while U.S. troops were in that country, and while the Vietnam War was in progress, no more than six in 10 ever told Gallup's interviewers that war was a mistake."

The U.S. timetable for Afghanistan calls for the removal of nearly all troops by roughly this time next year, and that can't come fast enough for the vast majority of Americans. Just over half would rather see U.S. troops withdrawn earlier than December 2014. Only a quarter say that America should still have boots on the ground in Afghanistan after that deadline.

Fifty-seven percent say the conflict is going badly for the U.S. and only a third say America is winning the war in Afghanistan.

"Independents have a much gloomier view of the war in Afghanistan than Republicans or Democrats," Holland said. "That may be because a Republican president started the war and a Democratic president has continued it, so there may be some residual support among people who identify with either party."

Some 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began in the autumn of 2001. The U.S. is quickly drawing down its forces in Afghanistan. If a bilateral security agreement that would keep up to 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014 isn't signed in the near future, the U.S. could withdrawal all forces from Afghanistan at the end of next year.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International between December 16 and 19, with 1,035 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The discontent evident in the CNN poll is also seen in two other national surveys conducted earlier this month. Two-thirds of those questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post poll said the war has not been worth fighting, and an Associated Press/GfK survey showed 57% saying the U.S. did the wrong thing in going to war in Afghanistan.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Afghanistan • CNN/ORC International poll • Polls
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. AceGirlshusband

    I think it was the most unpopular war in Soviet history, too.

    December 30, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  2. smith

    Obama`s handling of the war has been awful. 73% of troops killed have been under Obama. The surge in Iraq worked under Bush, but the surge in Aghanistan failed under Obama because the wars are very different from each other. The Obama admin. failed to understand this concept. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were victories for the US, the objectives of both wars were completed.

    December 30, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  3. Solomon Walker

    There is no requirement for it – likely the reason why – not to mention the fact that nothing in the Constitution of the United States supports abusing our active-duty soldiers this way.

    On the record and finally – the United States Army National Guard is not supposed to leave domestic soil as it is the intent of the law to maintain their role within the borders of this nation.

    I would advise not deploying them again to foreign lands, as it is on the record that some Americans were injured – aided the enemy combatant on domestic soil knowing that our domestic National Guard presence was substantially reduced – to induce a situation of civil conflict for political purposes.

    December 30, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    "Opposition to the Iraq war never got higher than 69%"
    ---------------------------------------------
    GWB dropped the ball on Afghanistan. He turned a blind eye to the war of necessity to his war of choice, Iraq. It's simple as that. Why we are still in theater now is beyond me. I'm sure we want to keep Iran within striking range, but let's get everyone home now.

    December 30, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  5. Dan

    Of course this is unpopular war. No one wants to be there, BUT, if the West abandons Afghanistan again the Taliban WILL take over again. Not only does this consign tens of millions (especially women) to a virtual slavery, it will provide Al Quada with a training ground. AQ will build its strength, it will launch attacks on the west and the West will be back in AG within a decade

    Its stinks, but we HAVE to stay

    December 30, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  6. cheeseroll

    Nobody likes imperialist wars. Why doesn't USA just pull out and no more of its soldiers need to die?

    Western politicians need to abandon their disgusting dreams of neocolonialism and withdraw these occupation forces from foreign nations. Nobody likes the west anymore thanks to the delusions of grandeur many in the west hold about exploiting and colonizing other nations under the weak veneer of "freedom" and "democracy". Is it any surprise that there is a regression in true freedom (not the kind US politicians like to talk about) around the world since people no longer believe in it?

    December 30, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  7. SeeThruIt2

    We were right in going to war against the country that harbored the terrorist training camps that launched an attack against the US. We were right in turning the situation over the the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

    We were wrong to send surge troops there and take over complete control from the ISAF. Nothing has been gained from the surge that couldn't have been done from other remote bases outside of Afghanistan.

    December 30, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  8. Tampa Tim

    It is time to bring all our troops home. The war has seen the end of bin Ladin, the man behind 9/11, many of the top leaders of al Qaida have met their just rewards, so some things have been accomplished. 2300 troops killed and many more wounded hardly justify the right wing frenzy that got us there in the first place.

    December 30, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  9. Mark Olejniczak

    We should have learned our lesson after Vietnam. As powerful as the US is, we cannot change the basic dynamic of a country unless we are willing to totally destroy it. Unfortunately a group of war mongers (Neocons) took over our government and ignored the lessons of history.

    WW2 was successful because we were willing to destroy Germany and Japan and remake them in Our image.

    We tried to save the existing corrupt Vietnamese regime while occupying that country. It failed because the government had little popular support and the Vietnamese wanted independence from foreigners. Our current endeavors fail because the locals do not want infidels occupying their country no matter how bad their country is, and they are willing to fight a jihad to oppose us.

    I hope that we have finally learned, but somehow I doubt it.

    December 30, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  10. tom l

    Is this the same war that President Obama has committed out troops to in perpetuity that the hardcore left is utterly silent about?

    December 30, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  11. G_Edwards

    "Some 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began in the autumn of 2001."

    Odd that unlike the Iraq War when Pres Bush was in office, the media didn't highlight the 1000th and 2000th service member deaths that occurred in Afghanistan while Pres Obama has been in office.

    On 2nd thought, maybe it's not odd at all.

    .

    December 30, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  12. Frank

    tell me libtard-MSM what wars where "popular" ?

    December 30, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  13. carlin123

    It's SOOO unpopular that we want them to stay there for at least another 10 years.
    America's foreign policy is a disgrace.

    December 30, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  14. Poster

    I realize in the absence of American troops extremism is going to grow again in the region.
    However our presence there is more trouble than it's worth.
    Let the rest of the world deal with this unstable region, it's in their back yard, not ours.
    If insurgents still pursue attacks against the US after we leave, send in the drones.

    December 30, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  15. Gurkha

    Our soldiers have lost their life fighting in Afghanistan. Don't put the tag "popular or unpopular". Its total dishonor to those serviceman and women!!

    December 30, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    How quickly we forget the truth.

    CNN........you really have LOST it, in terms of journalistic endeavor.

    We all KNOW the most unpopular war of recent history was the Vietnam war. The most deadly of all U.S. wars.......the Civil War, where Lincoln caused the deaths of 640000 Americans........because he wasn't man enough to negotiate.

    CNN.........you are a poor excuse for a news media. You have allowed yourself to be taken over and turned into a political party propagandist network.

    December 30, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  17. DC Observer

    President Obama has the power and votes to end the war tomorrow. A lack or political courage and moral fortitude will preclude him from doing so. Such is the state of US foreign policy.

    December 30, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  18. birder

    Most unpopular? Not by a long shot. That was Nam. US troops were killing kids on US campuses for opposing that war. Kids were defecting to Canada over that war. Chicago police were beating up political opponents to the war president over that war. This war just sort of makes people yawn.

    December 30, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  19. drrichard

    No surprise here. The rationale was good, but it was totally mishandled from the start (remember how bin Laden slipped through our fingers?). In the early '70s, while taking buses from France to Nepal I stopped off and spent some time in Afghanistan. Loved the country and even wrote a study guide to it that schools used for awhile. But I also saw two things: this is an incredibly rough place, and the people are very serious about their religion. Don't mess with them and don't fight here. And that's always been the history of the place. It took Alexander a year and a half to barely conquer it, Genghis Khan did it by killing almost everyone, the British lost an entire army in 1841, and you know what happened to the Russians. So why should are results be any different? If we'd followed the troops with engineers, physicians, teachers, and the like maybe some sort of positive rebuilding could have occurred; that's what the British did in Malaya in the '50s and it worked. But when you are working in a complex society of 22 tribes, all of which are based on close family ties, endlessly killing people by raid or by drone simply makes more enemies. And supporting a corrupt regime that seems to be based on smuggling and drug dealing is a dead end. Incidentally, I offered, twice, to return and help with the rebuilding. The Pentagon said thanks, but no money for such a program. Guess it all went to the military contractors instead.

    December 30, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  20. tom

    This war was lost before it started. The Afghan people have been known for their resistance to invaders long before there were any Muslims or Christians.

    December 30, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  21. dzerres

    Please. There were huge protests for years against the Vietnam War. Four kids were shot by the Ohio National Guard in one anti-Vietnam protest. Some campus buildings around the country were bombed. Even a President chose not to seek re-election because of it. Veterans returning from that war were, in some circles, shunned by the public. The federal law requiring the military draft had to be repealed by a Republican President to prevent a national revolution in America. Nothing like that occurred with the Afghanistan war – at most people were bored or ignored the whole thing.

    December 30, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  22. rs

    Longest- no doubt. Osama bin Laden- he was there, and it was post 9/11. Between Iraq and Afghanistan, at least in the case of Afghanistan there was a reason. Iraq offered nothing. It was a sad and sorry money pit for the U.S. to dump treasure and blood into for no good reason whatsoever despite Cheney's claim "it would pay for itself" or that it was "Mission Accomplished" according to jumpsuit GWB (in San Diego) a mere 3 months after it began. The Iraqi war unleashed Iran, and probably set off the "Arab Spring" that lead to the doors of Egypt, Libya and Syria. Never mind the 125,000 innocent dead Iraqis, their crush infrastructure or their 2 million refugees spread about the Middle East.
    Iraq might not be the most hated, but needs to be remembered as the war that didn't need to happen at all.

    December 30, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  23. Say What?

    maybe because 1) we shouldnt have been over there for 12 years. 2) We never should have been there at all

    December 30, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  24. Jay David

    The Afghanistan war is certainly the 2nd stupidest war in history...after the Iraq war, which was by far the stupidest war in history. But the Republicans have made it clear that their policy for governmnce is to place the US in a permanent state of undeclared war for the benefit of the corporations...and Democrats have made it clear they will follow this stupid policy as well, thus, adding to the reality that there is really no difference between a Republican and a Democrat.

    December 30, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  25. Boo

    Apparently this writer was not around during the Vietnam War.

    December 30, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
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