A plurality of Americans now believes that it was a mistake to send soldiers to fight in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, marking the first time in the war’s history that fewer Americans supported the combat effort than opposed it.
Forty-nine percent of Americans now believe the war was not ours to fight, according to a new Gallup Poll, compared with 48 percent who still believe chasing the country’s Qaida cells was the right thing to do. The margin is slight, but it marks a steep decline in those favoring the intervention over the years, which once registered at a high of 93 percent in early 2002.
But it has taken Americans longer to turn on its longest war than any other fought since the Korean War. It took the country only six months to sour on that campaign, in part due to Chinese intervention in North Korea that helped create a quagmire.
Similarly, Americans turned against the Vietnam War relatively quickly. About a quarter of Americans told Gallup they opposed what Lyndon Johnson once dubbed “that bitch of a war” when the polling service first gauged public opinion in the early summer of 1965, while six in 10 supported it. By October 1967, 47 percent saw involvement there as a mistake, compared with 44 percent who supported it.
Remember Iraq? Just 15 months passed from the start of that war in March 2003 before a majority of Americans—54 percent—viewed it as a mistake.
Part of the reason why it took so long for Americans to develop negative views of the war in Afghanistan is because so few opposed it at the outset. When the war started in those early, post-9/11 days, only 9 percent thought military intervention was a mistake. Between one in five and a quarter of Americans opposed the nation’s other modern wars when they began.
The results are sure to rile defense hawks like Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, who has expressed concern that the U.S. is turning inward and shirking its exceptionalistic duties as an international force for good and democratic order.
By a large margin, Democrats and “Democratic leaners” are more likely to view the Afghan War as a mistake. Fifty-nine percent now say putting troops on the ground in 2001 was wrong. Just 36 percent of Republicans think so.
Gallup’s telephone interviews were conducted from Feb. 6-9 among a random sample of 1,023 adults. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."