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. Chanel

    I am NOT against sending more troops to Afghanistan. And this war is NOT like Vietnam. Al Quieda is a significant threat.

    October 19, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Actually worse than Viet Nam...No it is not like Viet Nam, except in the fact that the original objective was to get Bin Laden, "dead or alive" as per the previous President and his administration. We seem back to going more after the Taliban than Bin Laden and Al Quida as the focus shifted to Iraq and has never shifted back to the original objective. Terrorism has been a threat for centuries, it is just more sophisticated and newsworthy than in the past. If anyone can come up with a good solution to finally quelch any and all terrorism (not just Al Quida) they deserve the Noble Peace Prize.

    October 19, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. ~~ July ~~ ( Working HARD to make TX Blue )

    It will be another Vietnam ... only that this one will not change no matter the outcome .. Afghanistan is not a country that change in 10 or 20 and much less 30 yrs ... Vietnam did change.

    October 19, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Fed UP

    Obama needs to listen to those who are there and know what's going on in Afghanistan, NOT listen to Biden, Pelosi and all the other arm chair generals. He needs to take action now and quit this holding pattern of doing nothing. Guess this is what we get when we elect someone who votes "Present" instead of taking a stand. A leader Obama is NOT!

    October 19, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. mrkusn

    No, it is not like Vietnam. But, let's be honest with the mission as to why we are there. Is this COIN and nation-building or a hunt for OBL in a counter-terrorist mission or both? If it is COIN then let's set a policy for that. Let the American people know that we will be there for another 15 years and that this mission will haunt every presidency for years to come. Vietnam involved more COIN without as much of the nation-building aspect as we could have. Be warned though, that this decision to prolonge operations will make our President a one-term President.

    October 19, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. Dutch/BAd Newz, VA

    This is not like Vietnam. Troops may be needed on the ground, but the strategy needs to be a counter-terrorism strategy rather than a anti-insurgency. This war needs to be conducted with Special Operations forces conducting counter-terrorism tactics in areas such as Yemen, Somalia & AfPak.

    October 19, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Bob in Pa

    It will only be a Vietnam if the media chooses it to be.

    October 19, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Four and The Door

    Like it or not there are tens of thousands of young dedicated Americans in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban. Here is the only question that should be asked right now:

    What can we do to support them?

    Anything else is a distraction from the most important job. Right now Obama knows the answer is," More troops" and he is hesitating to make a decision. I'm glad they did not leave the surge in Iraq up to him.

    October 19, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. mike

    it already has turned in to another vietnam we went into to this nightmare
    without looking at the past that other countries dealt with and take a different approach to the war with goal this isn't army school this is thei real thing and good soldiers die your not in there to learn how to fight the war but to win it

    October 19, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. disgusted

    How old are these people polled? Do they know anything about Vietnam personally? Or is this just a popular comparison?

    October 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Scott, Tucson

    The way obama is handling things over there, it will soon turn into something similar to Viet Nam. The man can't make a simple decision on whether to send in more troops for crying out loud!

    October 19, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Victim of Democratic Greed

    This is Obamas war and he needs to start making some decisions and get off the Tax payer funded campaign trail. We hired him to run the country, not campaign.

    October 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Gerry

    With Obama's new generals in charge General Biden, Pelosi & Reid I am sure we will be safe. How many more soldiers are they willing to be killed before they come up with a answer? Waiting for new election results is just an excuse to do nothing.

    October 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |

    Nice try CNN. Your polls are full of crap! Does anyone on the left remember 9/11? You were so busy bashing Bush the last 8 years you forgot who the enemy is. It isnt Vietnam, it has never been Vietnam, it will never be Vietnam. You weak leftist hippies who want to relive the 60s and now are in power in the Democrat party, have caused enough damage. Let my generation do what your generation never had the guts to do. Fight and finish fighting a war til we are victorious. I can think of no greater dishonor to us who have actually fought in Afghanistan for our country, than leaving before the job is done. That would make the sacrifises of your sons, daughters and my friends a waste. Thoswe like Obama who want to run before the job is done are disgraceful and not worthy to be considered Americans.

    October 19, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    We need to end the Bush Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


    October 19, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. Fitz in Texas

    Gen. McChrystal sends a 66 page memo back in August to President Obama requesting 40 thousands more troops, yet Obama ignores it. Gen. McChrystal is the man President Obama appointed to head up this war. A few weeks ago on 60 Minutes Gen. McChrystal was asked how many times he's spoken to The President since Obama became President. Gen. McChrystal answered "once". Guess this is how Obama supports our troops. Doesn't send them what they request and ignores them.

    October 19, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. al

    It is not VietNam but it will be if we don't decide what our objectives are and dedicate all the resources needed to accomplish that objective.

    Right now we have brave troops fighting and dying and what is it for? Are we going to get Bin Laden and destroy Al Queda? Are we going to hurt the Taliban so much that they become a useless group of people with no means to accomplish anything? Wether it is more troops more tanks, more planes or wether it is fighting a different kind of war, we need to decide and commit to a course of action.

    Obama is not being weak like some people think. If you had access to the same information he does you may not be making a hasty decision either. Standard military fare is to ask for more, whether you need it or not. We have to do this smart, not just hurl bodies in front of guns. We need an objective. Bush sent us over there without one and now we are paying for his lack of forethought.

    October 19, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Duane

    Obama is clueless, which is dangerous. He is our worst mistake since Cater……yikes!

    October 19, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. mike in colorado

    war is not the answer, the DEMS were elected in 06 to end...END the conflicts. hummmmmmm no end in sight !!!!

    October 19, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. John Spartan

    You can make general comparisons to both wars, which in general terms ,are somewhat similar. However, once you begin to examine the specifics, there are many, many differences. In the long term, I think the similarities are what will prove problematic to the current administration. The Soviet Union, with all its military might, conducted a brutal campaign, became mired in their own endless conflict there, and withdrew absent any real accomplishments. We failed to consider the fate of the French in Vietnam prior to becoming entangled in that conflict, apparently we have failed to consider the fate of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. It seems we are destined to repeat history. Is it due to arrogance, or ignorance, or both?

    October 19, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. Fools and their freedoms are soon parted

    No but if the fool in charge does not have the spine to send more troops and releys instead on a fruit loop (Biden) and a Joan Rivers wannabe (Pelosi) it will become his WATERLOO. Too bad it will only cost more soldiers lives.

    October 19, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. jobless recovery

    Shhhh, don't tell King Barack we are at war still. He's ignoring it.

    October 19, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. victim of republican greed

    After 8 years of stupidity in Afghanistan, I am glad to see the wingnuts say it is Obama's War. That means you morons should let him have the time to make the proper decision, so he can avoid the mistakes of the last resident of the white house.

    October 19, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    No, most people do not really remember Vietnam. It was a totally different situation, and the war was fought for totally different reasons.

    The two cannot be compared in that way.

    October 19, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. pravin

    Worse than Vietnam, President Obama's Waterloo, as he rapidly loses his liberal base...see my Treatise "Why are we in Afghanistan?" sent to Vice President Biden Monday 12th October ..

    October 19, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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