Nobody likes war… after a while

In response to Admiral Mullen’s testimony on the need for more troops in Afghanistan, Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked, “Do you understand you’ve got one more shot back home? Do you understand that?” The question is reflective of polls showing distinctly waning support of the war effort in the United States. A Washington Post-ABC ...

580880_090916_war_protest25.jpg
580880_090916_war_protest25.jpg

In response to Admiral Mullen's testimony on the need for more troops in Afghanistan, Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked, "Do you understand you've got one more shot back home? Do you understand that?"

The question is reflective of polls showing distinctly waning support of the war effort in the United States. A Washington Post-ABC News poll has found that only 46 percent of respondents thought that the war was worth fighting; 51 percent said that it wasn't.

It's certainly a dramatic change since the time of the U.S. invasion. According to Gallup numbers, a whopping 93 percent of respondents in 2002 agreed with the decision to send U.S. forces to Afghanistan. That number steadily declined to 72 percent by mid-2004. Between that point and mid-2007, however, that number was remarkably stable, dropping only two percentage points over the course of three years. That might be reflective of Afghanistan's status as "the forgotten war;" people's opinions probably don't change much if they aren't paying attention.

In response to Admiral Mullen’s testimony on the need for more troops in Afghanistan, Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked, “Do you understand you’ve got one more shot back home? Do you understand that?”

The question is reflective of polls showing distinctly waning support of the war effort in the United States. A Washington Post-ABC News poll has found that only 46 percent of respondents thought that the war was worth fighting; 51 percent said that it wasn’t.

It’s certainly a dramatic change since the time of the U.S. invasion. According to Gallup numbers, a whopping 93 percent of respondents in 2002 agreed with the decision to send U.S. forces to Afghanistan. That number steadily declined to 72 percent by mid-2004. Between that point and mid-2007, however, that number was remarkably stable, dropping only two percentage points over the course of three years. That might be reflective of Afghanistan’s status as “the forgotten war;” people’s opinions probably don’t change much if they aren’t paying attention.

It’s interesting to compare this trend to the United States’s other war. In the case of Iraq, there’s an obvious decline in the number of Americans who think sending troops to Iraq wasn’t a mistake (from 75 percent in 2003 to 39 percent in 2009) and an increase in the number of people who think that it was a mistake (from 23 percent in 2003 up to 58 percent in 2009). But whereas opinion on Afghanistan has been steadily declining; virtually every poll on Iraq represents another significant fluctuation. In mid-2004, for example, the percentage of supporters swung from 58 percent down to about 44 percent, and then back up to about 56 percent.

In general, there certainly seems to be decreasing support for any war over time; another Gallup poll suggests that soon after wars end, there is a consistent increase of people who “feel that war is an outdated way of settling differences.” 

Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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