No matter how you ask it, by approximately a 2-1 margin Americans think continuing the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea.
Keep our troops there?
Pew Research Center. April 4-15, 2012.Worth it?
"Do you think the U.S. should keep military troops in Afghanistan until the situation has stabilized, or do you think the U.S. should remove troops as soon as possible?"
Remove troops ASAP: 60%
ABC News/Washington Post Poll. April 5-8, 2012.Favor the war?
"All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, or not?"
Worth fighting: 30%
Not worth fighting: 60%
CNN/ORC Poll. March 24-25, 2012.Let's face it. 25% is the same percentage of people who think the President wasn't born in the United States. 25% is about as bad as a poll can get unless all the crazies act on a sudden urge to emigrate to Somalia.
"Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan?"
Not only is the war unpopular, but it keeps getting more unpopular.
In the middle of 2010, 53% of Americans thought that we should stay until the situation stabilized. By the middle of 2011, 39% thought so, and now it's down to 32%.
In the middle of 2009, 51% thought the war was worth fighting. By the middle of 2010, 44% thought that, and in June of 2011 43% did. Now its 30%.
In May of 2009, 50% favored the war. By mid-2010 that had dropped to 40%, and by mid-2011, 36%. Now as we see it's down to twenty-five percent.
Not only is the war unpopular, but by at least one measure it is even more unpopular than the Vietnam War was during its last stages:
USA Today / CNN / Gallup poll, January 1973:It's not the same language, but only 25% say they now favor the Afghan war, and this seems like a comparable question. (In 1971, two similar polls measured "No, not a mistake" at 28% and 31%, again not as unfavorable as the Afghan result).
"In view of the developments since we entered the fighting in Vietnam, do you think the U.S. made a mistake sending troops to fight in Vietnam?"
Yes, a mistake: 60%
No, not a mistake: 29%
What saves this administration from any criticism of the war?
- Republicans aren't offering any plausible alternative;
- Relatively speaking, unlike Vietnam, almost no Americans are dying over there -- we're just burning money;
- as Sunday's Doonesbury cartoon eloquently illustrated, lots of people barely know we're still over there;
- And even if they do, no one particularly gives a damn any more, perceiving the futility of attempts to change policy.
86% of Americans think the economy is a "very important" issue, while 46% think the same about Afghanistan. Even among that 46%, no one could honestly tell you what we are still fighting for, what our goals are, or what difference it might make if we left now instead of years hence.
Yet we've watched our government spend more than a trillion dollars and will watch them spend hundreds of billions more in a quest as futile and far less noble than Don Quixote's.