Gallup: One Year Since Withdrawal, 50% of Americans Call Afghanistan War a Mistake

Michael W. Chapman | August 31, 2022 | 10:58am EDT
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Afghans trying to flee their country at Kabul airport, August 2021.  (Screenshot, Pakistani Intelligence)
Afghans trying to flee their country at Kabul airport, August 2021. (Screenshot, Pakistani Intelligence)

(CNS News) -- Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year -- a withdrawal considered disastrous by many critics -- 50% of Americans believe it was a mistake to send U.S. troops into that country in 2001. 

In that conflict, which lasted 20 years (2001-2021), 2,456 American soldiers died and 20,752 were wounded. During the Aug. 20, 2021 withdrawal, 13 more U.S. soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber at the Kabul airport. Because of the war, 1.5 million Afghans now live with physical disabilities and there are 2 million Afghan widows

In its August 2022 survey, Gallup interviewed1,006 U.S. adults living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Gallup asked, "Looking back, do you think the United States made a mistake sending troops to fight in Afghanistan in 2001, or not?"

In response, 50% said yes, it was a mistake, and 46% said no. 

(Gallup)
(Gallup)

"Shortly after the war began in October 2001, the U.S. public largely supported it, and in early 2002, a record-high 93% of Americans said it was not a mistake to have sent troops to Afghanistan," reported Gallup. "Support for sending troops to Afghanistan gradually shrank to a bare majority by 2010."

"In 2014, Gallup found the public equally as likely to say it was a mistake as to say it was not, although attitudes reverted to being positive on balance in 2015 and 2019," said the survey firm.

On the political side -- the same question -- 58% of Democrats said the war was a mistake, as did 53% of Independents. Only 37% of Republicans said the war was a mistake. 

"Since the flawed withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan last August after a 20-year engagement, Afghanistan finds itself ensnared in economic and humanitarian crises," said the polling company.  "Gallup polling in Afghanistan has found record-high suffering among Afghans. Gallup has also found that the broad majority of Americans view Afghanistan unfavorably. Still, the public remains split over whether U.S. military involvement in the country was a mistake.

(Gallup)
(Gallup)

According to the Costs of War project at the Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs at Brown University, the United States has spent, for all post-9/11 war spending (global war on terrorism), $8 trillion. In addition, veterans' care from the war is estimated to cost $2.2 trillion over the next 30 years.

Also, "more than 387,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting since 2001," in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. At least 38 million people have been displaced "from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria. This number exceeds the total displaced by every war since 1900, except World War II," reported the Watson Institute

To read the survey, click here

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