October 19th, 2009
12:34 PM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Will Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/19/art.afghan.gi1018.jpg caption="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. steve rohrback

    Obama's War? How soon the republicans forget who got us into this mess. Obama is cleaning up Bush's legacy. Either get on board or shut up!

    October 19, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. TMAN

    I hate to be right in this case but i predicted this and IRAQ combined would be a Vietnam in the sand and mountains instead of the jungle when it all started.

    October 19, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Kyle

    The reason is its a mess over there is not cause of Obama and his not making a decision. Its cause Bush invaded here to get to Al Queda and then moved into Iraq and has left Afghanistan off on its own for the last 7 years. he is the one that started it and could not finish it just like his entire presidency. Don't say this is Obama's war as he has to clean up the mess Bush and Dick left. God you people are morons. and yes he has to decide whether we send more people are needed there but thats not something that you just decide in an hour either people. just like you can't fix an economy that was broken in 8 yrs then say fit it yesterday.

    October 19, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Mark

    Vietnam had rice paddies, rain and underground tunnels full of troops as we fought communists.

    Afghanistan is mountainous with IED's and suicide bombers. The only items similar are the smell of death along with the manufacture and use of illicit drugs fighting Muslim extremists.

    With that said what is the real difference between Nguyen van Thieu in Vietnam and Hamid Karzai of Afganistan?

    It would be painful to leave Afghanistan to its feudal fate. But it would be even more painful to be forced out, five years and many body bags from now.

    October 19, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. John Russell

    The longer we stay there, the worse it gets. People everywhere resist foreign occupation. Why can't the war party and their minions realize this? We could close ranks with most of the nations in the region including China, Iran, Russia, India and reduce the threat of terrorism using intelligence networks to reduce this threat. It's America's decision to garrison the globe with bases that is largely responsible for the antipathy that drives the likes of Bin Laden. There will be no Pax Americana, get over it. Not everyone wants Wal-Mart, MTV, Micky Mouse and Barbie.

    October 19, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. Grrr-awful-o

    Under Obama, yes. Why? Because, just as in Vietnam, the government is getting too involved with the logistics of how to prosecute the war. And they're taking forever to make any decisions. That is just like Vietnam was and that's why we lost. Only this time the Obama admin will try to blame it on Bush. What a joke!!!

    October 19, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Afghans are poor, impoverished people who don't have the technology or knowledge to fly planes. The Taliban condemned 9/11 yet they have become victims for no reason. The ordinary people of Afghanistan, like any country will fight off invasion and occupation. The people don't want to democracy. The majority are Muslims who want Islamic law. Everyone should live according to their life, culture, laws.

    October 19, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. lila

    I'm simply thankful to have a Leader who thinks. From everything Gates says about Obama, I believe that what ever choice he makes will be a thought out one. Until the election results are worked out, it would be foolish to send in more troops before we know what/who will await them on the ground. There is no fear that this war will turn into another Viet Nam from me. LBJ was a Texas boy like GW. Obama is of a different make. Thank you God.

    October 19, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. alec

    To those who are opposing Obama's willingness to send more troops, perhaps they should go talk to their recruiters. If most of these people put their money where their mouth is we would have the extra 40,000 troops to send. How many of them have slept in a tent for over a year, worked over 80 hours a week while humping a flak vest, rifle, ammo, water, etc, while worrying if their spouse is paying all the bills? Perhaps they wouldn't be so willing to send other peoples children to war if they went themselves.

    October 19, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. Starcruiser

    When will our government leaders stop listening to the Warmongers (the Pentagon) as to what's best for America and let the peacemakers decided what's best for us as a nation ? Maybe Ameirca is the worlds biggest threat to Peace.

    October 19, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Robert J. Havecker

    Bush went into two wars using an all volunteer military without inacting a draft. Why???? Because it would have been too politically unpopular. Now after stressing our volunteer forces for many years, a decision on how many more troops is it wise to send, deserves appropriate study. In addition, without an Iraq government, it would not serve any purpose to send more troops. Both of the Iraq Presidential candidates know they need more help and are motivated to move more quickly.

    October 19, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. Retired US Army Officer-Kansas

    It will not as long as we regain the reason for being in Afganistan, that being to destroy bin laden, and the Taliban, not nation building. If we resort to nation building, then yes could be a no win situation. The Afgan people must deside their own future, the idea that we can export our form of government and our ideals is ignorant. So we need to define our military objectives, commit the forces to acheive those military objectives and then leave upon completion of those military objectives, if politicains have political objectives to meet, then they can go there and stay until they meet their political objectives, that is not the militarys job.

    October 19, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Craig of LA

    1. The 'elected' government is irreversibly corrupt.
    2. The vast majority of Americans do not support the war.
    3. We do not have the money to pour down this sewer hole.
    4. We are fighting a fanatical enemy that will outlast us.

    Sound familiar?

    October 19, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. c

    Those of you who think this is an 'easy' decision are idiots. I hope our president takes the advice of his vice president. We will never 'win' in a part of the world that has been warring for centuries. And what does 'win' mean these days. Even if you build a democratic nation, it doesn't guarantee the people won't choose the Taliban, Hamas, or Hizbullah as their government! Limit our mission. Focus on the border with Pakistan. Focus on our troubles at home. And ignore the wacky fringe right who could care less about our country. They are the least patriotic of all!!

    October 19, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. PAM

    My son just got back from afghanistan and I'm so happy he got
    home alive because my heart goes out to the families who have
    lost a love one over there.If they need to send more troops over
    there so be it. You can't even imagine what these young kids are
    going through and the things they have seen that will probably
    haunt them the rest of their lives.We need to show support for
    all americans over there and hope they all come home safe.

    October 19, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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