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. sharon

    this question that those would like everyone to think is correct........hammered over,and over again.......like the REP like to do........does not make it a correct statement.


    Al Quidea is NOT like Vietnam......

    NOW.................start a new idea to harp on............................

    Go ahead................GOP this is what you do............................

    We of course, will not hear you.......but just in case some might........

    WE WILL IGNORE YOU......................................


    October 19, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Bill

    This war has similarities like Vietnam. The US got involved in Vietnam after the French were kicked out, and now the US is involved in Afganistan after the Russians left. IF the politicians would stay out of the conflict, unlike they did in Vietnam, then the military could go ahead and complete the mission and route out the Taliban.

    October 19, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. John D...Georgia

    Al Quieda is a major threat to America. On 9/11 they killed over 3000 of our citizens on our soil. I think that was more than was killed by Japan at Pearl Harbor in World War 11. We would be awfully foolish to forget that.We have not choice but to go after them in Afghanistan.

    October 19, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. victim of republican greed

    Obama has already increased the number of troops in Afghanistan by 20,000 in March. It is time for him to look at all options before we commit more soldiers to a corrupt government that may not be legitimate.

    October 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Idiot_Pelosi

    It will if we let idiots like OBUMMER, PELOSI, FRANK, SCHUMMER, KERRY, and REID manage the agenda.

    October 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Meki Mull

    Not 'becoming', already there!

    October 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. single mom

    Face it, folks. In 2006, the Democrats took control of Congress and started interfering in policy making. Political will is a greater variable than people realize. The greatest military in the world cannot win if the political will is not there to support it.
    The Democrats don't support the military. Flashback to the late 60s and what happened when the U.S. lost its political will.

    October 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Ruty

    We need to get out and bring out troops home. The mission has been accomplished. Let those people take care of their own problems. The problem is in America where we need to put our attention.

    October 19, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. John Spartan

    Michael M, Phoenix AZ "If anyone can come up with a good solution to finally quelch any and all terrorism (not just Al Quida) they deserve a Noble Peace Prize."

    Well Michael M. we are in luck because we have a Noble Peace Prize winner sitting in the White House right now. I imagine we will see all kinds of quelching going on. The terrorists probably had a meeting when President Obama received the award to decide whether or not to continue in their efforts.

    October 19, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. Jon

    Everything is Obama's fault. Are Americans so dumb that we can't even recall recent history ? We had eight years of fear and the blind leading the blind under Bush. Ever hear of the UNITED States of America?

    October 19, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Tim from Tampa

    The original reason for the war...to find Bin Laden... has long been forgotten. It is turning into another U.S. Nation Building exercise. It will become another Viet Nam, only more costly and more damaging to the U.S. Dragging this fiasco on ad-infinitum will destroy what little respect and credibility we have left.

    October 19, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant

    This is IT, President Obama! Time to show the world you are NOT just another politcian and earn that Nobel Prize. NO MORE TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN AND END THE WAR. Period. It's time to take a different route; a "change" in how we fight overseas campaigns.

    October 19, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Debbie

    Similarities of Vietnam and Afganistan are that it is a quagmire and not winnable with ground troops.

    In war you must strike with a defined plan and hard. Bush did not do that. Turned his focus to Iraq...thus that strategy was lost. Created the quagmire we are in.

    Difference of Vietnam and Afganistan is that Vietnam did not attack us.

    So now the question is: Does America have the stomach to start over and do this right? Who are we attacking? Why are we attacking? What is our exit strategy? Is this a war that while we cannot win can we come out of positive?

    October 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  14. joe yarborough

    Obama needs to do one of two things, send enough men to do the job, or bring all of our men home! Please don't get our finest killed two or three at a time.

    October 19, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. Daniel

    These polls tick me off sometimes because they only deal with about a thousand to two thousand people...When are we going to enable a NATION WIDE EVERY HOUSEHOLD POLL...I bet if that ever was to happen you would see that MOST people disagree with these outragous actions and policy done by our government...

    October 19, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Jane/Seattle

    It already is another Vietnam as is Iraq! When will America stop and learn that wars of Choice are always doomed to fail? But then again, THIS is precisely what the Military Industrial Complex is Counting on for Ever-Higher Profits! Can anyone Spell Halliburton, Bechtel, Xe, Monsanto, GE, Boeing and countless others? Stop the Crapaganda! We are ON to You all. Like Thom Hartmann has said, "People tend to get upset when you kill their families..."Peace

    October 19, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. J.R.

    Afghanistan is not Vietnam. We need as many troops as we can have over there to finish off the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Obama is doing the right thing by sending over more troops. Bush messed up big time with Afghanistan and should have never invaded Iraq. The bad guys are in Afghanistan people and we can beat them.

    October 19, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. Jay T.

    yeah, but John McCain endorses sending every American citizen to Afghanistan right now to fight and because he's a Republican and Republican's are obviously experts on war strategy (see Iraq, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Vietnam if you need any proof) then that is what I am for. Sissy Liberals!

    October 19, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. Gus

    We should all be more worried about the safety of our troops instead of the political ambitions in Washington. It is important to find the relevance of what Obama is actually doing, instead of jumping the gun and sending mass troops into Afghanistan, he is instead making sure he will produce the right choice. If you are to bash him for being too cautious, then you are bashing him for being 'too' heedful for what is in fact, the best choice. Not what you are trying to say? Well the next time you want to bring spite to what Obama is doing, make sure to remind yourself that he is acting for the better of the common good, not to satisfy your wellbeing that is based by a CNN poll. Get ahold of yourself.

    October 19, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Hypocrites?

    Wasn't it just a year ago during the primaries that people were saying that more troops needed to be pulled out of Iraq and sent into Afghanistan where a "legitimate" threat was? Wasn't this said by the same people who are now crying saying we shouldn't be at war at all? Isn't that hypocrisy at its best?!?

    October 19, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Richard

    Wow, It's amazing the level of ignorance out there, from folks that just use this as a way to hate our President. It's clear that no matter the decisions made about more troops, we're stuck. We could not nation build Afganistan if we wanted to...way too much cultural disparity and too many tribes. Were probably better off manning one base and drone the hell out of them. The Taliban or Al quieda can run over everything, and as they become more visible we bomb them.

    October 19, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Transfer

    Take from Iraq and give to Afghanistan, this way we are not sending more overall troops out.

    October 19, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. File under "Sarcasm"

    Obama called this the right war during the campaign but now that his far left wing wants to pull out he is waffling on what to do next.

    Without the troop commitent this will become worse than Vietnam, The North Vietnamese only wanted their country, they didn't want a base for international terror attacks.

    October 19, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    this is worse than vietnam with no world trade center and the economy the way it is with people tired of this warand iraq and pakistan and terriorism

    October 19, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. son b

    I served in the military, and I personally think they have to rethink everything over. George Bush acted because of 9/11 without thinking the possibilities of the war lasting a long time and now, Afghanistan. I personally think that if we eliminate the threat (i.e. Bin Laden) another one takes it's place. Why not fix the mistakes first before going to another mistake waiting to happen. We do not have enough funds to undergo another war. We are getting more and more into debt, that it might triple or even quadruple when Obama's term is finish. If we go into depression, then the terrorist or the enemy will win. Because America will be ruined. I think that is their motive, to insight us to war in order to go bankrupt...well that's my opinion.

    October 19, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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