Public: Speed up Afghanistan withdrawal

October 29, 2013, 1:21 PM GMT+0

Many Americans want to speed up the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, while there is a notable partisan divide on whether or not it was a mistake to send troops there in the first place.

The US has been fighting in Afghanistan now for little over 12 years, with the first US troops arriving in October 2001, a month after the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. 2,291 US soldiers have now died in the Afghanistan War. President Obama has said that the US will withdraw combat troops in 2014, though it seems almost certain that some US troops with stay behind to maintain a US presence in the country and advise the Afghan army.

The latest research from YouGov shows, however, that even President Obama's timetable for withdrawal isn't quick enough for much of the American public. 44% of Americans want the withdrawal of US troops to be sped up, while only 16% think that troops should stay until the job is done. This is up slightly from August - when 37% wanted the withdrawal to be sped up - but is still down from when this question was first asked in March 2012, when 52% of the American public wanted the withdrawal to occur before the 2014 deadline.

Republicans (26%) are the most supportive of keeping troops in Afghanistan as long as necessary, though nevertheless they are also more likely than not to support an accelerated withdrawal (35%). Nearly half of Democrats (49%) and Independents (46%) support speeding up the withdrawal.

Overall, the country is nearly evenly divided on whether or not the government should negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan. 34% support such talks while 35% oppose it, but this conceals a partisan divide where Democrats (44%) are much more supportive of the deal than Republicans (25%).

Though Americans overwhelmingly want to withdraw from Afghanistan, and quickly, the country is more divided when asked whether it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan in the first place. 42% say that it was a mistake, while 38% say that it was not a mistake.

Democrats (47%) are the most likely to say that it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan, but Independents also tend to agree, with 42% saying that it was a mistake and 37% saying that it was not. 45% of Republicans say that it was not a mistake compared to 35% who say that it was.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty.

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