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. Irene, TX

    People, what's wrong with you? Are you living in the Wild West, do you think that this problem can be resolved with "swift justice" by hangin'em high? We have already rushed into Iraq. This is NOT Obama's war even though it is now, and 2-3 weeks is not an eternity. This is the step that better be calculated well. I can't believe those who expect the President to just remove all the problems with some magic stick. Funny thing is that the same people will turn around in 3 months blaming President for making irrational decisions. Get real, enough action movie mentality already.

    October 19, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. p

    We've known where the 911 killers are for some time.
    On the border of Pakistan.
    Let's go kill them.
    – But no more nation-building!
    No more American soldiers needlessly sacrificed!
    No more war for profit. (we wish)
    What about some nation-building in our own country?
    Let's please get a plan to thoughtfully, but expeditiously

    October 19, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. MJ

    Total US deaths in Vietnam – 58,209
    Total US deaths in Afghanistan – 756

    This poll and article is insulting.

    October 19, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Bill

    Yes, Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam. Yes for sure.


    1. Afghanistan is exactly on the other side of the earth than USA, more than 10,000 miles away.
    2. We are trying to control a country which is neighboring Russia.
    3. Russia will always supply weapons to Taliban to Fight our Troops.
    4. Imagine if Russia tried to control Mexico which is neighboring USA. We will probably make hell for Russia, by supplying weapons to Mexicans to fight Russians.
    5. We must remember that we are not the World Police, responsible for Policing all the countries of the world.
    6. We must remember that Terrorist don't attack us from other countries, they come inside USA and attack us. We need to stop infiltration of Terrorists, rather than going after them.

    October 19, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. dina-Bronx, NY

    People – read about the history of Afghanistan. No one has EVER conquered that country and no one ever will. It is like Viet Nam? To make it more like Viet Nam, how about we bring the draft back and then draft both men AND women? That'll get the attention of millions of Americans and we can finally bring an end to this war. Stop wasting human lives (both American and Afghani) and use that money here in America. THEN, no more problems re: affording health care for everyone.

    October 19, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Tim

    Yes, if the Democrats remain in charge.

    October 19, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. FEDFL

    Of course it is another Vietnam.

    In fact, during the late '70's, the American intelligence agencies deliberately goaded the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan and actually referred to it as the "Soviets' Vietnam". America knew that the terrain and the culture made it an unwinnable war and the perfect trap.

    10 years later and trillion$ in debt, the Soviets withdrew and shortly thereafter the Soviet Union collapsed economically. Many economists actually attribute the economic collapse of the Soviet Union to the costs of the Afghanistan war – the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

    So, spout whatever pseudo-patriotic propaganda you prefer, a long running war in Afghanistan will only make Wall Street richer while Main Street Americans will pay dearly in both blood and treasure – just like the Soviets.


    October 19, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Ray

    Afghanistan is not Vietnam. The people of Afghanistan need to take a larger role in fighting Al Qaeda. For all of those who want more troops deployed, sign up and go fight. We have been there for eight years and counting. The US military cannot continue operating in there indefinitely. How do you fight an enemy that is always hiding in the shadows and willing to kill themselves for their cause? We need a change in the way we fight there. The war on terrorism will not be won with bullets.

    October 19, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. Anon

    We can NEVER win a war on terrorism. There will always be terrorists and people who support them.

    We trained the terrorists in Afghanistan during their war with the USSR, and now we are in the position of the russians. Why does our gov't insist on trying to nation build? They suck at it! They keep propping up weak corrupt governments who eventually turn on us and cause more problems. We should just get the hell out of there and when the taliban takes over, train terrorists to combat the taliban gov't. That would be easy since the Afghans hate anyone who tries to rule them because the are a collection of backward tribal peoples.

    October 19, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Steveinil

    The only reason this is becoming another vietnam is cause bush screwed up whenhe invaded iraq. Sending 40,000 more US lives into afghanistan is not an easy decision. Obama is taking his time and making sure what they do is right for the long run not just right now. Look at iraq and "Mission accomplished". He has learned from some of the MANY MANY dare is ay infinite mistakes of the bush corporations 8 years in office

    October 19, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Howard

    It is not VIetnam, it is Afganistan, and Afganistan has been a losing proposition for any country that has waged war there. We need to get out.

    October 19, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. David USMC

    This won't be like Vietnam because we as a nation are going to listen to the military professionals and do whatever it takes to finish the job. Al-Quaeda attacked our homeland and the Taliban not only protected them but provided material support to them. I don't care if it takes one hundred years, they must not win.

    October 19, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. beevee

    No Afghanistan war is not like Vietnam. It has a specific purpose, that is to capture Osama bin Laden and the AlQueda terrorists who struck the first blow on the USA. It is only proper to retaliate and make sure they will not crop up again and create trouble anywhere. Unfortunately Afghanistan is where they are hiding and some in that country are providing a safe hideout to these terrorists. They are (the Taliban and warlords of Afghanistan who are sheltering the terrorists) also responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians because their fight tactics are cowardly. If the US retreats now the terrorists have won the war and we are left with so much money spent on the war and precious lives of US military lost. It is a shame.

    October 19, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. aliou

    Increasing troups calls as war mongering, war profiteering, republicans are demanding is the most stupid thing I have heard lastly from any politician: How can anyone be pushing the president to increase troups level when we are not even sure they would stay after the elections are decided in Afganistan?

    It is supposed to be a foreign, democratic country despite its corruptions as JWBush declared it last time I checked. They just had elections and the results are not yet out. How then do we know if the new government would like to keep our troups send them out of their country?

    This is a sovereign nation!!! We can't decide for them what they can and cannot do. Sure we invaded the country under the taliban. Are we still going to keep occupying the country if the "democratic government " asks us to leave?

    October 19, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Al

    I am 80 years young. Johnson and McNamara were running the show during the Vietnam era. We were told<<<<<if we leave Vietnam the Communists would rule the world. We left,,,,,nothing changed. Almost nothing, except America lost over 58,000 Americans. Hopefully at some point in time our leaders will realize,,,,,,Americans can NOT cure the ills of the rest of the world. Sadly America cannot take care of it's self anymore. We will be in debt to China until the end of time.. If China decides today that we should pay them what they are due,,,,,,,,China will own America. The stars and stripes would no longer fly over the white house. America CAN-NOT be the world's policeman.

    October 19, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. Michael

    Much like the Presidents who inherited Vietnam Obama inherited Afganistan.
    We should either beef up our resources and go on to win, decisively and quickly or we should get out quickly.
    Either way, make a decision and support it fully. We should have learned our lessons from Vietnam by now.

    October 19, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Mark

    In order to suceed in Afghanistan, we need to stop advertising our military concerns and plans to the entire world. Remember WWII? Could you imagine what would have happened if we broadcasted our military strategies to Germany and Japan? We kept our mouths shut and did what we had to do to complete the mission.

    Wouldn't it be great if the Taliban openly discussed their military planning and troop levels? But you will never see that happen. Stop advertising everything to the world!!

    October 19, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Franco

    It is very much like Vietnam in that local troops to be trained are as recalcitrant as troops in Vietnam. They have no will to fight, unlike their Taliban counterparts. Who trains the Taliban??? It is all about the will!Once the Americans leave, the Taliban will again rule, much like the Viet Cong ruled Vietnam once we left. A Vietnam Combat veteran

    October 19, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Bruce

    How is this Obama's war? he inherited this mess from GWB who did not do what was needed and decided to instead of finishing the job here he wanted to prove that he could be better than his daddy and go after iraq...So to balme Obama for this mess is somewhat misplaced.

    October 19, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Harry G Campbell

    Obama is not a leader. He is a lawyer and therein lies the problem. As a lawyer he will continually analyze, argue, discuss and avoid anything that looks like a decision. Lawyers learn this tactic in "billing hours 101". Never reach a conclusion, keep discussing and that way your billing hours will remain high. Whatever happened to his position in March when he said he would destroy and dismantle Al Qaeda? I know he has to re-assess the strategy because he just found out the Karzi Government is corrupt. As a former military officer I suggest Obama either...lead, follow or get out of the way. He wanted the job, he got the job...now do the job.

    October 19, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. wisconsin teacher

    Why can't we just get out of there and leave these people alone? They DO NOT WANT US THERE!!! There has been innocent civilians who have been killed or wounded because of OUR artillery! Homes have been destroyed and we have not sufficiently helped the people of Afghanistan to rebuild.....the money has been diverted to support our war efforts. Horrible! ...and we wonder why we are so disliked around the world!

    October 19, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Dale

    In Viet Nam we did not loss the war, we were not allowed to win. There is a difference here, In Afghanistan we need to win and get our service members home and save with their families and friends and the press needs to understand that simple idea. Reporters: forget about the Pulitzer Prize or your name in print, report the news for the news and not a pat on the back every time your story makes it into the main stream media papers and television news cast. When the media reports on the war bad of good it is called freedom of the press but when Americans use freedom of the press to stand up against the Obama, Pelosi and Reid administration policies on the war and other policies in general, these American are are called brown shirts and Nazi.

    October 19, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. chanphoieng

    I came from Cambodia, a place part of VN war. US came to VN and Cambodia, and Loa ripped them apart and walked away, left millions of Cambodian people in the hand of Khmer Rouge.
    Now US considering walk away from Afganistan? If US think about this situation, US should not come to any of these countries at the first place. US bomb, kill, and burn whole villages, turned stones upside down and walked away when US face tough condition. Is it considered a high moral and ethnical ground of conduct war, leaving behind millions of people who support US in the first place facing uncertain and risk their lives.
    Only US not North VN nor Taliban can turn the situation into a very messy one. The blue, red and white color won't run only if US decides to do so.

    October 19, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Carter Landrum

    US generals should bring our troops home and then resign before Obama can fire them. Obama has no clue what to do, and he is now looking for a scapegoat to throw under the bus and then he will announce his plans to bring the troops home. Don't you see? Obama will not fight Muslims because he is one and wants to be loved by them ahead of American citizens.

    October 19, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Snowgun

    1. Hold and replace U. S. and U. N. troops as needed and give them the support and equipment they need.
    2. Send in enough trainers to build up the Afghanistan Army
    3. Bomb the living daylights out of the al-Quieda and Taliban wherever and whenever they surface, especially the mountain regions where they are holed up over the winter.
    4. Cut off the supply routes
    5. Change the restrictive rules of engagement to all out war when attacked or when the "targets' present themselves.
    6. Explain this plan to the Afghanistan people and let them decide their fate. Kill or be killed by us or the enemy.

    No more "putzing around"! This is war and we Americans need to realize it. Our young men and women are dying for us. Let's give their families our best efforts.

    October 19, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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