Few Americans sense widespread Afghan support for what the United States is trying to do in that country, a perception that bolsters public backing of a troop withdrawal, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Overall views of the war in Afghanistan are in the pits: 60 percent of Americans see the war as not worth its costs, nearly double the 35 percent saying the decade-long effort has warranted the expense and lost lives. There has been consistent majority opposition to the war for nearly two years.
Big majorities of Democrats and independents continue to call the war not worth its costs, and for the first time in polls stretching back five years, Republicans are evenly divided on whether the war has justified its price. Also for the first time, more Republicans “strongly” see the war as not worth fighting as see it as strongly justifying its costs.
Republicans are far more apt than Democrats or independents to support keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan until the Afghan army is well-enough trained to operate independently.
Overall, 54 percent of all Americans want to pull out U.S. troops from Afghanistan even if the Afghan army is not adequately trained to carry on the fight. About six in 10 Democrats and independents back this position, but the number slides to just under four in 10 among Republicans.
One key driver — across party lines — is a broadly held view that most Afghans are not supportive of U.S. efforts there.
Just 30 percent of Americans sense that most Afghans endorse what the United States is trying to do, and two-thirds of those who see Afghans as behind U.S. initiatives there want American troops to stay in the country until the Afghan army has been trained as a capable fighting force. It’s a mirror-image among those who see the Afghans as opposing the U.S. role: here, two-thirds want a troop withdrawal, regardless of the Afghans’ capacity.
The poll was conducted March 7-10, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. Results from the full poll have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.