CNN Poll: Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history
December 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
11 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 Just over half would rather see U.S. troops withdrawn earlier than December 2014.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. Jim

    The Afghan war was a bad war. The enemy isn't an army. The place isn't really a country. It's land ruled by War Lords and drug dealers. We have poured tons of cash into the place and in the end Karzai will bail out of the place on a golden parachute made of our money. And there is the issue of what this conflict has done to our soldiers and their families. Bush should have never went in there and Obama should 100% pullout ASAP. The President promised we would get out of there, but he has reneged on that promise. This country is being run by interests that are not ". . . of the people, for the people and by the people."

    December 30, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. David

    The Afghan war is the second most unpopular right after Obama's war on America with his policies.

    December 30, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. Steve_MA

    If this poll is true, then we consist of mostly idiots. The Afghan war was the righteous war, the one where we attacked people who attacked us first. The Iraq war was the false war. The Viet Nam war was a war of political choice, and not necessity. The Spanish-American war was a war of imperialism. There are so many other unjustified wars to choose from that, to choose the Afghan war as most unpopular defines us as mentally deficient. If our population cannot see that reality, then we deserve to fade and die as a country. For we are idiots.

    December 30, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. max cady

    Its unpopular but most people dont care because they have nothing in the game.
    If we still had the draft and every American family had something to lose we would have been out of there years ago.

    We also need a law stating that every politician (including the president) must have a family member in harms way until the war is over. These wars would never go on this long.

    December 30, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Paranoid

    It is becoming increasingly clear that Bush started this war with the objective of permanent military presence in Afghanistan & central Asia rather than to avenge 9/11 attack. Osama is dead, and Al Qaeda is not in Afghanistan any more...so why are we still there spending hundreds of billions each year??? perhaps to protect the crooks (Karzai & company)!!!

    December 30, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. dondiego

    This is Obama's baby now. But let's not forget that it was W that took is eye off the ball and dragged us into Iraq on bogus grounds before business was finished in Afghanistan, which was the real staging ground for the 9/11 attacks.

    December 30, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  7. tom l

    @rs

    So hold on a second. You complain about the Iraq War but then in the same sentence talked about how it unleashed the Arab Spring which you are obviously in favor of. So which is it?

    Oh, and why so quiet on your criticism of our president who has signed a deal to have our troops remain in Afghanistan in perpetuity?

    December 30, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. sammy750

    This is the war that Bush and Cheney created by telling the Americans and the World big LIES. This is the war that about 58 current Republicans supported Bush in starting. They voted for trillions in war debt too. This is what the Republicans stand for. Currently McCain, Graham and others would prefer that Obama go to war in Iran and Syria. Republicans are the war party, not caring about the deaths of our fighting troops. They don't even support them when they come home. Big Corporation and the Rich get all the support and big tax breaks. Lets defeat the warring Republivcans.

    December 30, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. Pete

    I see on another site Mike Rogers undigging Benghazi again..Now that the ACA is starting to roll smoothly and Issa and his republican pitbulls ran out of negetives to run on let's go back and refresh ourselves with another of Issas losing arguements in Benghazi..Just for laughs why don't Issa investigate the hundreds that died in embassies under Bushs reign of idiocy that lasted 8 freakin years..That alone will keep him busy till he's thrown out at midterms don't you think!!

    December 30, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. joeknows

    This is what happens when a nation, thanks to a conflicted corporate owned media, forgets the history lessons of past wars....VIETNAM!

    This is what happens when the rich, the white, and the corporations don't have any skin in the pot of war.....it's too easy to send the blue collar kids and the none-citizen immigrants (mercenaries) to fight and die on the front lines.

    This is what happens when US Corporations and the Defense Industry Establishment rules DC over the people.....Corporations need the Us Military to impose their business models on other nations and other people. Unlike the Chinese, our Corporations are all about exploitation and manipulating and bribery! Just ask the Iraqi's and why Iraq oil is flowing to China and not to the US!

    Cut military spending, bring the troops home, and rebuild Main Street America....and I don't mean the rich white suburbs that have been getting all the benefits of corporate welfare!

    December 30, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    David

    The Afghan war is the second most unpopular right after Obama's war on America with his policies.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What "policies"? The one where President Obama forces you to put on your big boy pants and pay for your own medical care instead of sticking responsible Americans with your expenses, or the ones where he bends over backward to acquesce to EVERYTHING the right DEMANDS at the expense of working Americans, poor Americans, elderly Americans, American students, and American women?

    December 30, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. Jerry Sims

    I guess Uncle Sam will have to find a new enemy to fight to keep tax money flowing to the arms industry. We are usually up for a new war, but we tire of old ones. Of the most recent two wars, however, this one was at least theoretically based on the potential presence of 911 perpetrators. The Iraq thing, as I recall, was apparently because the Neo-Cons just wanted to go. Also, as I recall, even after we all knew the justifications for the Iraq war were lies, the backers, including the late Harold Simmons, shouted down the opposition with the catch phrase "cut and run". Great stuff for a movie if it hadn't really happened.

    December 30, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. Erick Holmes

    Till Obama gets the nerve Nixon had and bombs Norther pakistan so the Taliban can't retake control of Afghanistan, and you show the people there that living in a tribal society that this way of life is not what it wants, this war is not worth fighting.

    December 30, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. cwiz

    You cannot compare modern wars against terrorists with conventional wars. Additionally, and specifically, this war also accomplished its mission of driving out core terrorist leadership and giving the region opportunity. What they decided to do with it is up to them, but none of this would have been possible without an "unpopular war". The right thing to do is not always the easiest road; usually it is not.

    December 30, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. just asking

    i guess americans have a short memory. they forget the attack on 911 came from afghanistan. i think they are just showing their distaste for the way obama has handled the afghanistan war. first calling it the good war, then announcing a surge of troops and at the same time announcing a withdrawlal/surrender date. totally incompetent.

    December 30, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    sammy750 wrote:

    This is the war that Bush and Cheney created by telling the Americans and the World big LIES.
    --------------------
    No, the war started with incorrect claims was the Iraq War. Immediately following 9/11, the Taliban made no secret about the fact that they were harboring the leadership of the group claiming responsibility for the attacks. The Taliban declared Osama Bin Laden a hero, and promised to not release him to the U.S. at all.

    The Taliban challenged the U.S. "If you want him, then come and get him." And, that is where the Bush administration fell short. They had suddenly abandoned the pursuit of Bin Laden, after claiming to having trapped him in the Bora Bora Mountains, to gear up for an invasion of Iraq.

    December 30, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Malory Archer

    Erick Holmes

    Till Obama gets the nerve Nixon had and bombs Norther pakistan so the Taliban can't retake control of Afghanistan, and you show the people there that living in a tribal society that this way of life is not what it wants, this war is not worth fighting.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Considering tribal society has been a way of life in Afghanistan since the dawn of time, that's highly unlikely and attempting to force our will upon them only results in more hostility.

    December 30, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Ryan

    We invaded Afghanistan rightfully to attack al Quaida and the Taliban supporting them. DOES ANYONE FRIGGIN REMEMBER 911? You people have short memories! The American people wanted justice, and Bush made the right decision to invade. That said, 12 years is too long. We should have killed those responsible and quickly gotten out of that butthole of a country.

    December 30, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. carre1

    I read somewhere that we almost had the Taliban defeated when Dubya decided to invade Iraq. Anybody know if that is true. Even so, it doesn't excuse the President. He promised to get us out and he has turned out to be another Tricky Dick. Getting out by taking his sweet time, all the while the outcome will be the same in that country, except for more loss of people and money.

    December 30, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. tom l

    @Malory
    "David

    The Afghan war is the second most unpopular right after Obama's war on America with his policies.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What "policies"? The one where President Obama forces you to put on your big boy pants and pay for your own medical care instead of sticking responsible Americans with your expenses, or the ones where he bends over backward to acquesce to EVERYTHING the right DEMANDS at the expense of working Americans, poor Americans, elderly Americans, American students, and American women?"

    =====

    So you want to make sure people are responsible for healthcare but when it comes to getting a job and living off of the govt for over a year with unemployment benefits is somehow not acting irresponsibly? The circles you people on the left talk in are amazing. And the more amazing part is you don't even realize it.

    December 30, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  21. Gurgyl

    --what short memory? Bin Laden in Pakistan, Kashmir–you bombed mountains. Get education.

    December 30, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. manlian

    This generation had to carry the burden both financially and in sacrifice to fight in this mess that the Baby Boomers created.

    December 30, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. texasnotea

    1. Reagan-Bush-Bush set the national house on fire. They
    overspent by $12 trillion and counting. We're still paying for Afghanistan,
    Iraq, the tax cut, Medicare Part D, the Great Republican Recession.

    2. We called Fireman Obama to put out the fire and save the house.

    3. As soon as he arrived, Conservatives in Washington began
    stabbing the fire hoses, letting the air out of the fire truck's tires, and
    turning in false alarms (death panels, birth certificate, Kenya, socialist indoctrination of children, closet Muslim, Rev. Wright, Benghazi, IRS, Obamacare etc.).

    4. Now Conservatives are saying that we should blame the
    fireman, not the guys who set the fire in the first place.

    5. In a word, it is called subversion. Some would argue with me
    and call it sabotage

    6.
    You know, one of the main reasons the GOP has lost credibility is because every
    time they throw mud at the President, we find out they have overly exaggerated
    the issue or just plain made it up. It has happened time after time since Obama
    has been elected and they keep doing it over and over again. And then they cry
    media bias and foul when THEY get caught speeding and pretend they have not
    done anything wrong. So we can assume they don't have the intelligence to lead
    this country because of their inability to tell the truth

    December 30, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. Daytona

    The real problem is that our leaders (for the most part) have NEVER served in combat. They Do NOT understand the ONLY reason to have and then use a military is NOT for the worlds referee or a meals on wheels program. The ONLY reason for the use of the military is to HURT PEOPLE and BREAK THINGS!

    December 30, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. Thomas

    I would say it was the Iraq war , totally absurd . Took its tole on the American economy , spirit , not to mention lives ,and our respect .

    December 30, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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