As the White House releases its review of the strategy in Afghanistan, claiming “progress” has been made and that a July troop withdrawal is on track, Americans appear increasingly impatient with the decade-long war. A new ABC News-Washington Post poll finds that a record 60 percent of Americans now think the war has “not been worth fighting” — a more than 20-point increase since President Obama’s election two years ago. As the Post notes, it’s “a grim assessment,” and the war in Afghanistan is now as unpopular as the Iraq war was under the Bush administration:
Negative views of the war for the first time are at the level of those recorded for the war in Iraq, whose unpopularity dragged George W. Bush to historic lows in approval across his second term. On average from 2005 through 2009, 60 percent called that war not worth fighting, the same number who say so about Afghanistan now.
Meanwhile, a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows that while Americans want Obama’s primary focus to be on the economy, their second priority is to bring the troops home from Afghanistan — more than reducing the deficit:
Despite the American peoples’ growing displeasure with the longest war in American history, conservative leaders have already been preparing to delay or scuttle the Obama administration’s plan to begin withdrawing troops in July of next year, much as they resisted pulling out of Iraq. Earlier this month, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested he wants to have a permanent U.S. military presence in the country, saying on CNN, “I think it would really secure the gains we made to have a U.S. presence in Afghanistan, two air bases that would be beneficial…as a way to make sure this country never goes back into the hands of the Taliban.”
Earlier this year, Sen. Jon McCain (R-AZ) threw every argument he could against setting a withdrawal date in Afghanistan, saying it was “ill-advised,” that it was a “purely a political decision,” and that it would show weakness. And when RNC Chairman Michael Steele slipped up earlier this year and suggested the war may be unwinnable, conservative pundits and lawmakers pounced on Steele for daring to step out of line.