'Why Are We There? Who Are We Helping?' Americans Tire of Endless War

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by
Common Dreams

'Why Are We There? Who Are We Helping?' Americans Tire of Endless War

Poll shows US support of war in Afghanistan hits all time low

by
Common Dreams staff

Support for the war in Afghanistan has reached an all-time low, with only 27 percent of Americans saying they back the war. (File)

"What are we really doing there? Who are we helping?" asks Chris Solomon, an independent from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina referring to the US military presence in Afghanistan in an interview with the Associated Press.

Solomon was among the respondents to a new AP-GfK poll, released today, that shows support for the war in Afghanistan has reached an all-time low, with only 27 percent of Americans saying they back the war and roughly half of those say that the ongoing American occupation is doing more harm than good.

Despite this growing lack of support, President Obama has promised to keep combat troops in Afghanistan until 2014, and the status agreement recently signed with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzia, will keep US troops on the ground until at least 2024.

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Associated Press: AP-GfK Poll: Support for Afghan war at new low

In results released Wednesday, 66 percent opposed the war, with 40 percent saying they were "strongly" opposed. A year ago, 37 percent favored the war, and in the spring of 2010, support was at 46 percent. Eight percent strongly supported the war in the new poll.

The poll found that far fewer people than last year think the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. troops has increased the threat of terrorism against Americans. Overall, 27 percent say the al-Qaida leader's death resulted in an increased terror threat, 31 percent believe his death decreased the threat of terrorism and 38 percent say it has had no effect. The poll was conducted before the revelation this week of a recent al-Qaida plot to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner with an underwear bomb.

Chris Solomon, an independent from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, is among the respondents who strongly oppose the war. He said the military mission has reached the limits of its ability to help Afghans or make Americans any safer, and he would close down the war immediately if he could. While the rationale for the war is to fight al-Qaida, most of the day-to-day combat is against an entrenched Taliban insurgency that will outlast the foreign fighters, he said.

"What are we really doing there? Who are we helping?" he said in an interview.

Yet nearly half, 48 percent, said the continued presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is doing more to help Afghanistan become a stable democracy, while 36 percent said the opposite and 14 percent said they didn't know. Among those opposed to the war, 49 percent say U.S. troops are hurting more than helping. Three-quarters of those who favor the war think they are doing more to help.

Republicans are most apt to see U.S. forces as helping, with 56 percent saying so, followed by 47 percent of Democrats. Among independents, more say troops are hurting Afghanistan's efforts to become a stable democracy (43 percent) than helping (32 percent).

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