Pulling Out Of Afghanistan: 59% Support Starting Troop Reductions Next Month

June 21, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

Americans want American troops out of Afghanistan, though they are not sure that things will go well there after U.S. troops leave. In this Economist/YouGov Poll, 59% support the President’s promise to begin U.S. troop reductions in July. 

However, Americans want that reduction to be a gradual one, perhaps because many see problems reemerging when U.S. troops leave. 47% expect the Taliban to return to power after U.S. troop withdrawal; just 15% don’t think that will happen.

As they assess American involvement in Afghanistan, the public is more likely to think the impact has been positive than negative for Afghan civilians. By two to one, Americans believe Afghans are better off today than they were before the U.S. invasion. 

But Americans recognize that Afghans may want Americans out: just one in ten think the people in Afghanistan want U.S. troops to stay.

Only 35% believe U.S. involvement in Afghanistan was a mistake, but 72% believe that in the long run it will not wind up as a victory for the U.S. 

Even though Americans support the President’s decision to begin a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, they don’t necessarily approve of his overall handling of the situation there. In this week’s poll, only 38% approve; just about half do not. 

Americans do, however, like some of the individuals who have been associated with decision-making for the war in Afghanistan. Americans have positive images of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, CIA Director Leon Panetta and especially positive views of the General in charge of Afghanistan, David Petraeus. 

Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the following people?

Very favorableSomewhat favorableSomewhat unfavorableVery unfavorableDon’t know

Defense Secretary Robert Gates






CIA Director Leon Panetta






U.S. Army General David Petraeus






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