The Public Supports U.S. Involvement in Afghanistan

Public Opinion Snapshot

President Obama is preparing to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to bolster U.S. efforts there. The administration justified the action on the grounds that the Taliban is gaining ground in Afghanistan and must be stopped. The public at this point remains supportive of our efforts in Afghanistan and appears to share Obama’s views about the Taliban threat.

For example, strong majorities continue to categorize the Iraq war as a mistake, but the reverse is true about Afghanistan. An early February Gallup poll found that 66 percent thought sending U.S. military forces to Afghanistan was not a mistake, compared to just 30 percent who thought it was.

Chart One

The same poll asked respondents what would happen if the United States and its allies withdrew their forces. The public’s expectation, by an overwhelming 70 percent to 21 percent margin, was that Afghanistan would fall under Taliban control.

Chart Two

Afghanistan is surely one of the Obama administration’s most difficult foreign policy challenges. Maintaining the public support and understanding that they currently have on this issue will be crucial.

More from CAP on Afghanistan:

Report: The Forgotten Front

Event: A New Strategy for Afghanistan with Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, February 26, 2009