More than 12 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan, support for the war is dipping below levels of support for American intervention in Iraq and Vietnam, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday.
CNN found that 17 percent support the effort in Afghanistan, down from 52 percent in December 2008. Eighty-two percent disapprove of the conflict. Americans' assessment of the war is gloomy -- 57 percent said the war is going badly, and about a third think the United States is winning.
United States troops are scheduled to be in Afghanistan for another year -- until Dec. 31, 2014. A recent National Intelligence Estimate predicted that gains made by the United States would be significantly lost by 2017 if the United States and Afghanistan do not make a new security pact allowing troops beyond the deadline. However, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has been reluctant to sign such a deal, and U.S. efforts to impose an ultimatum to sign by the end of this year have failed.
Unlike Iraq and Vietnam, which were started under dubious pretenses, the rationale for invading Afghanistan as a response to 9/11 was seen as reasonable by nearly all of the American public. However, approval figures for Vietnam and Iraq were higher than those found in the recent poll. President Lyndon Johnson's approval on Vietnam reached a low of 27 percent in Gallup polling, and Nixon's nadir was even higher. A high of 61 percent of Americans thought Vietnam was a mistake, according to Gallup polling. Support for George Bush's handling of Iraq dipped to 26 percent in USA Today/Gallup polling in January 2007. A high of 63 percent of Americans thought Iraq was a mistake in April 2008.
Other recent polling has shown that most Americans believe the war in Afghanistan to be a mistake. A December AP poll found that 57 percent of Americans thought it was the "wrong thing to do" to invade, and 66 percent said it was not worth fighting for in a recent Washington Post - ABC News poll.