Seventy years on from D-Day World War Two is still widely seen as the most justified war that the United States has fought in the past century

It has been 70 years since D-Day and the Allied landing in Normandy, the attack that began the invasion of Europe and led to the end of World War II.  World War II remains one of only two wars of the 20th and 21st century that most Americans are sure weren’t mistakes, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Polls. 

Only 11% -- the lowest percentage on any of these items -- said that World War II was a mistake.

Support for wars in retrospect are at least partly dependent on generation.   Some of that difference is due to knowledge.  Don’t know responses are much more likely among those who might not have personal recollections of the conflict. 

The oldest generation is much less likely to think either World War I or World War II were mistakes.  But half or more in all age groups believe the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and in Iraq were mistakes. Those 45 and older are particularly likely to say Vietnam was a mistake. 

Vietnam is the one recent war that Democrats and Republicans agree on -- and they agree it was a mistake (though by different margins).  That partisan agreement makes Vietnam the war the largest number of Americans dislikes.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, begun under a Republican President, evoke very different partisan reactions.   Democrats say both were mistakes, while Republicans disagree.

This poll was conducted just after the President announced troops strength in Afghanistan would be cut to below 10,000 by the end of this year, and then reduced further.  Americans are divided about the fighting in Afghanistan.  But more than half of senior citizens say that sending any U.S. troops to Afghanistan was a mistake.

The 1990 and 1991 response to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq gets a positive assessment, but not by much.  The conflict was short and successful, but still a third say sending U.S. military to free Kuwait was a mistake.   There is a party difference, as Desert Shield and Desert Storm also were ordered by a Republican President, George H.W. Bush.  Democrats and Independents divide, but by more than three to one, Republicans say that conflict was not a mistake.

Korea may be this country’s least remembered recent military exercise.  29% of the public couldn’t answer whether they thought the Korean Conflict was a mistake or not.  That figure rose to 44% among those under 30.  But those who could answer thought it was not a mistake.   

Historically, women have tended to be less supportive in public opinion polls of prospective U.S. military involvement.  Asked retrospectively in this poll about military actions, women are more likely than men to say they have no opinion on whether or not these actions were a mistake.  In most cases, women are less likely to be sure the military action were not mistakes.  And when it comes to the war in Afghanistan, 47% of women (compared with 38% of men) believe sending U.S. troops was a mistake. 

Veterans are supportive of all of these military engagements – with one exception.  Like the rest of the country, veterans believe the war in Vietnam was a mistake. 

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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