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How Americans are split over whether the Afghanistan war was a mistake

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Americans are split over whether the Afghanistan war was a mistake, according to a new poll.

A Gallup poll published on Sept. 11 found that 52 percent of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan was a not mistake, in contrast to 43 percent who responded it was.

The recent poll indicated the divide cuts across party lines. According to the poll:

  • 25 percent of Republicans said sending troops to Afghanistan was a mistake
  • 53 percent of Democrats said sending troops to Afghanistan was a mistake
  • 48 percent of political independents said sending troops to Afghanistan was a mistake

Similarly, the poll also revealed Americans are almost evenly split over whether they believe the Afghanistan war has safeguarded the U.S. from terrorism. The poll found:

  • 43 percent of Americans said the war has made the U.S. more safe from terrorism
  • 46 percent of Americans said the war has made the U.S. less safe from terrorism

Views were also split among party lines about the impact of the Afghanistan war on safety against terrorism. The poll said:

  • 66 percent of Republicans said the U.S. is safer from terrorism because of the war, 25 percent said it is less safe
  • 33 percent of Democrats said the U.S. is safer from terrorism because of the war, 58 percent said it is less safe
  • 35 percent of political independents said the U.S. is safer because of the war, 51 percent said it is less safe

The poll was conducted via phone from Aug. 15-30 with a sample size of 2,291 adults in the U.S. It’s margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Since 2011, a slim majority of Americans consistently have responded to Gallup polls expressing that the war in Afghanistan was not a mistake.

An exception occurred in 2014 when then-President Barack Obama announced most U.S. forces would be pulled from Afghanistan by 2016. In that poll, 49 percent of Americans said the war was a mistake, while 48 percent said it was not.

The war attracted dramatically more public support in its early stages. A month after U.S. troops were first sent to Afghanistan in October 2001, Gallup reported in November 2001 that 89 percent of Americans believed the war was not a mistake.

The most recent Gallup poll comes days after a covert meeting with the Taliban and Afghan leaders at Camp David was called off, dismantling ongoing peace negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban. President Donald Trump said that he canceled the meeting after a U.S. soldier and 11 others were killed in a Taliban car bomb attack.

Although Trump has repeatedly said it’s time to end “endless wars,” he told reporters Monday peace negotiations with the Taliban are over.

“They’re dead. They’re dead,” Trump said. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re dead.”

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who has spearheaded the peace talks, shared a draft of the U.S.-Taliban agreement with Afghan leaders earlier this month, the Associated Press reported.

The agreement would have required the U.S. to withdraw approximately 5,000 of the roughly 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan 135 days after signing the agreement, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. troops have been stationed in Afghanistan since Oct. 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks because the Taliban provided a safe haven for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

But now, it remains uncertain how the Trump administration will proceed regarding a troop reduction.

Meanwhile, Trump said Wednesday the U.S. was striking the Taliban harder than ever — in light of the Taliban’s recent attack.

“They thought they would use this attack to show strength. But actually, what they showed is unrelenting weakness,” Trump said at the Pentagon during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony. “The last four days, we’ve hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before, and that will continue.”

CENTCOM did not immediately return a request for comment from the Military Times for details on missions conducted against the Taliban over the past week.





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