February 14, 2014

As U.S. role in Afghanistan nears an end, more Americans see failure than success

52%

About half of Americans say the U.S. has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.

The ongoing rift between the U.S. and Afghan President Hamid Karzai — apparent again this week when Karzai ordered the release of detainees accused of attacking American forces —and fears about the Afghan army being able to hold its own against the Taliban have helped frame the question: Did the U.S. achieve its goals in that country after fighting a long and costly war?

The answer from Americans is mostly “no.” About half (52%) said the U.S. had mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan compared with 38% who said it had mostly succeeded, according to a Pew Research Center/USA TODAY survey conducted in January. There’s relatively little partisan difference on the question: 52% of Republicans, 48% of Democrats and 54% of independents say the U.S. had mostly failed to achieve its goals.

Shortly after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the public had more confidence that the U.S. effort was on the right path: A June 2011 survey found that 58% said they thought the U.S. would achieve its goals.

Despite the negative view of the outcome, 51% of Americans in the latest poll said using military force in Afghanistan was the right decision — a decision taken after the Taliban refused to turn over al-Qaeda leaders behind the 9/11 attacks. About four-in-ten (41%) said it was the wrong decision. But that support level represents a decline from 2006, when 69% said military intervention was the right decision.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Terrorism, Wars and International Conflicts

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a Senior Editor at the Pew Research Center.

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1 Comment

  1. Gordon Drennan2 months ago

    “a decision taken after the Taliban refused to turn over al-Qaeda leaders behind the 9/11 attacks”

    I’m not surprised you get the results you do when you distort what the facts are. The Taliban didn’t refuse to hand over anyone. They asked for evidence. The US didn’t give it, it just invaded. And the FBI consistently said it didn’t have any evidence that bin Laden was involved in or knew about 9/11 beforehand. Other acts of terrorism, yes. 9/11, no.

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