Poll: Americans Growing More Negative About Success in Afghanistan

But more than half still support the decision to use military force.

U.S. Marines walk on top of their Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) while on patrol near the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 16, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
Jan. 31, 2014, 3:05 a.m.

More than half of Amer­ic­ans be­lieve the United States has mostly failed to achieve its goals with the war in Afgh­anistan, ac­cord­ing to a poll re­leased Thursday.

The USA Today/Pew Re­search Cen­ter poll is a stark con­trast to one re­leased in June 2011 fol­low­ing the death of Osama bin Laden. At that time, 58 per­cent said they be­lieved the United States would achieve its goals in Afgh­anistan.

Fifty-two per­cent of Amer­ic­ans said the United States has mostly failed to achieve its goals in the coun­try, com­pared with 38 per­cent who said the U.S. has mostly suc­ceeded, ac­cord­ing to Thursday’s poll.

The poll was con­duc­ted Jan. 15-19 among 1,504 adults, with a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 2.9 per­cent­age points.

Des­pite un­cer­tainty over the United States’ reach­ing its goals, 51 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans said the de­cision to use mil­it­ary force was the right one, com­pared with 41 per­cent who said it wasn’t. In Janu­ary 2009, 64 per­cent said us­ing mil­it­ary force was the right call.

And there’s little par­tis­an di­vide on wheth­er the United States has achieved its goals. Fifty-two per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans said it has mostly failed, com­pared with 48 per­cent of Demo­crats and 54 per­cent of in­de­pend­ents.

A ques­tion on wheth­er the United States had achieved its goals in Ir­aq garnered nearly ex­act res­ults. Fifty-two per­cent said the United States had mostly failed, while 37 per­cent be­lieve it has mostly suc­ceeded.

The poll comes as U.S. of­fi­cials and NATO al­lies are un­cer­tain what — if any — mil­it­ary in­volve­ment they will have in Afgh­anistan after this year. U.S.-Afghan re­la­tions have been trained over Pres­id­ent Ham­id Kar­zai’s re­fus­al to sign a bi­lat­er­al se­cur­ity agree­ment un­til after the coun­try’s elec­tions later this year. U.S. of­fi­cials have ar­gued that delay­ing the sign­ing hurts mil­it­ary plan­ning and in­creases the chance that the United States will re­move all of its troops by the end of the 2014.

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