Few think the U.S. won the Afghan war

January 06, 2015, 10:30 AM GMT+0

Only 14% of Americans think that the U.S. won the war in Afghanistan, but only a third feel it was a mistake to send troops in the first place

After losing 2,224 lives, and spending over one trillion dollars, America's longest war, the war in Afghanistan has come to a formal end. American soldiers will no longer participate in combat operations, though a reduced American presence will remain in the country for at least two years to train the Afghan army.

YouGov's latest research shows that only 14% of the American public think that the United States has won the war in Afghanistan. 33% of the public believes that the war was lost, while 53% aren't sure either way.

Despite the widespread perception that the U.S. is not departing Afghanistan victoriously, only 35% of Americans say that it was a mistake to send troops to fight in Afghanistan in the first place, while 37% say that it was not a mistake. Opinion against sending troops to Afghanistan was highest in June 2013, when 44% of the public said it was a mistake. When combat operations ended in Iraq in 2011, 51% of Americans said that it was a mistake to invade Iraq.

There is a significant partisan divide on this issue, however, as 45% of Democrats say that it was a mistake, compared to only 32% of independents and 27% of Republicans.

Despite the formal end of the international mission in Afghanistan, around 11,000 American soldiers will remain in the country for at least two years to aid and train Afghan forces. The public narrowly approves (43%) rather than disapproves (37%) of this plan, though Republicans (56%) are solidly in favor of the ongoing American mission in Afghanistan.

When asked to predict what will happen in Afghanistan, only 20% of Americans say that the country will become a stable democracy, either in the next couple of years or further into the future. 59% say that the country will never be a stable democracy. After the Soviet Union withdrew their forces from the country in 1988, the Communist government in Kabul managed to hold onto power for another four years.

Full poll results can be found here.