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Friday, October 02, 2015

What America Thinks: Is It Time to End the War in Afghanistan?

It looks like America's longest-running war is going to keep on running. The Pentagon announced this week that it may choose to leave troops in Afghanistan beyond the previously-announced 2016 withdrawal date. President Obama officially ended the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in late 2014 but decided to keep several thousand troops there until 2016 for training and counterterrorism purposes. Nearly two-thirds of voters supported that decision at the time.

In March, however, Obama agreed to the Afghani president’s request to delay U.S. troop withdrawals if needed. But even in late 2014, 33% still favored an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, although that figure has run as high as 53%. It doesn't help that voters for years have doubted whether the United States can win the war in Afghanistan.

At the same time, concern about Afghanistan has been fading as Americans increasingly turn their national security focus to Iran and the radical Islamic group ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The war in Afghanistan was launched in 2001 to root out the Islamic al-Qaeda terrorist group, but has that mission been accomplished? As the war enters its 14th year, concern among U.S. voters that the terrorists have the upper hand in the ongoing War on Terror remains near a record high.