Poll: Most say Afghanistan war not worth fighting
WILL LESTER | August 19, 2009 07:45 PM EST | AP
WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans say the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, according to a poll released on the eve of that nation's elections.
An ABC News-Washington Post poll found 51 percent who said the war was not worth fighting, while 47 percent said it was worth it.
Only a quarter in the poll favored sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan while almost twice as many would like to see the number of troops decreased. At the beginning of this year, people were slightly more inclined to say the number of troops should be increased than decreased.
Three years ago the U.S. had about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan. There are expected to be about 68,000 by year's end.
By a 2-1 margin, the poll found that people doubted Thursday's election in Afghanistan will produce an effective government. The voting to choose a new president comes at a time when the nation is struggling with an armed insurgency, drugs, corruption and a weak government.
The public is more supportive of President Barack Obama's handling of the Afghanistan war than of the war itself, with six in 10 in the ABC-Post poll saying they approve. Those findings are similar to those of an AP-GfK poll last month that found 55 percent approved of Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan.
The AP poll in mid-July found that 44 percent favored the Afghanistan war and 53 percent were opposed. People were opposed to the Iraq war by a 2-1 margin in the AP poll.
U.S. officials say the Afghan elections can be an important step toward achieving the key goal of preventing that country from again sheltering al-Qaida.
About six in 10 in the ABC-Post poll said they are confident in the ability of the U.S. and its allies to defeat the Taliban and provide effective economic development.
Participants in the poll were divided on the question of whether the U.S. is winning the war in Afghanistan, with 42 percent saying the U.S. is winning and 36 percent saying the U.S. is losing. The rest said neither side is winning, or were undecided.
The ABC-Post poll of 1,001 people was taken Aug. 13-17 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.