March 30, 2012

Poll: Public Majority Wants Faster Afghan Withdrawal

A new poll shows nearly three-quarters of Americans now oppose the Afghan war, and a majority want President Obama to speed his plan for removing all U.S. forces by late 2014. The sagging numbers will give ammo to those within the White House who favor a quicker troop withdrawal.

Since June, U.S. public opposition to the decade-long war had hovered around 62 percent. That figure shot up to 72 percent in the latest CNN-ORC International Poll. Only 25 percent of those polled still support the war, down from 36 percent last June and 35 percent last November.

That is highest amount of Americans opposed to the conflict since the poll's inception.

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed want Washington to remove all American forces by 2014, with 55 percent favoring a removal of all U.S. troops earlier. .

Only 22 percent said they support keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

And on the question of whether they believe America is winning the war, 61 percent now feel the United States is not winning--a stark increase from last June, when Americans were nearly split even.

The sinking poll numbers could give President Obama political cover to speed up his withdrawal plans. The U.S. is already shrinking its force there, and will have 68,000 troops left in Afghanistan in late September. Afghan commander Gen. John Allen is set to deliver a recommendation to Obama this fall about how many U.S. troops he believes are needed to carry out the administration's strategy through 2014..

That means the Obama administration will be in the midst of a major war strategy review just as the presidential election is reaching its crescendo.

Dwindling U.S. public opinion of the conflict could lead the president to bring more troops home before 2014, says Nora Bensahel, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

The poll was conducted in the wake of a number of embarrassing events for the U.S. mission, including the desecration of Korans, urinating on dead bodies and an alleged murderous rampage by an American soldier.

The survey has a three-point margin of error.