AFP, November 18, 2010

More Americans oppose war in Afghanistan: poll

Fifty percent of those surveyed said the United States should not be involved in Afghanistan, with 44 percent supporting the US military presence, said the poll

WASHINGTON — More Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan than support it, a new poll showed Thursday, the latest sign of waning public backing for the US-led mission.

Protest against war in Afghanistan
Protest by the group, Direct Action to Stop War and Occupation (DASWO) in Minneapolis, Minnesota in December 2009. (Photo: Tony Webster)

The Quinnipiac University poll also found a large majority of Americans want to see an end to the ban on gays serving openly in the military, including voters with a family member in uniform.

The poll results will offer ammunition to opponents of the war and to Democrats in Congress pressing to scrap a law that requires gay troops to hide their sexual orientation or face expulsion from the military.

Fifty percent of those surveyed said the United States should not be involved in Afghanistan, with 44 percent supporting the US military presence, said the poll.

In a September 9 poll by Quinnipiac University, 49 percent of Americans endorsed the war effort, while 41 percent expressed opposition.

Democrats, who are otherwise loyal supporters of President Barack Obama's policies, are overwhelmingly negative about the war, with 62 percent saying US troops should not be in Afghanistan, according to the survey.

Republicans, however, endorse the war 64 to 31 percent, despite their opposition to Obama on just about every other issue. Among independent voters, a majority of 54 percent said the United States should not be in Afghanistan, it said.

The poll showed military families were divided over the war, with 49 percent backing the US role and 47 percent saying the troops should come home.

Despite rising casualties and questions about prospects for victory after more than nine years, the conflict did not register on the political radar in this month's US legislative elections that saw Obama's Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives.

"President Barack Obama is in somewhat of a tenuous position politically on the Afghan war. If Republicans should desert him, he'd find himself with a very unpopular war on his hands," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The poll results came before a NATO summit this week in Lisbon, where Obama and other leaders are expected to endorse the war effort and lay out plans to begin handing over to Afghan forces starting next year.

Although Obama's approach to the war faces rising public opposition, his stance on lifting the ban on gays in the US military enjoys widespread support, the poll showed.

When asked about repealing the law banning gay troops from serving openly, 58 percent supported scrapping the rule, with 38 percent favoring retaining it.

Among voters with a member of the military in their family, 55 percent favored repeal and 38 percent opposed the change.

It was the first time the survey had found military families supporting ending the ban, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Democrats and independent voters supported lifting the ban by overwhelming majorities, the poll showed.

The Quinnipiac University poll, carried out from November 8-15, surveyed 2,424 registered voters nationwide and has a margin of error of two percentage points.

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