News and Analysis

Americans Now Support Leaving Some Troops In Afghanistan Marking Major Shift
KARIM SAHIB/Contributor/AFP via Getty Images

Americans’ opinions on the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has dramatically shifted only a month after the U.S. completed its departure from the country.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, just 28 percent of Americans said they believed a full withdrawal was the right thing to do, while 50 percent believed that the U.S. should have pulled out some troops, and 15 percent said it should not have withdrawn any troops at all. The full withdrawal was supported by 47 percent of Democrats, 28 percent of Independents, and just 7 percent of Republicans. 

“Though the troops are gone, America’s longest war still gnaws at the country,” Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy said in a statement accompanying the October poll. “Weary of the seemingly endless conflict but wary of what was left behind, the majority of people still see boots on the ground as the firewall between a country in the grip of Western hating factions and the rest of the world.”

The poll signifies a massive shift in public opinion on the withdrawal. Just three weeks ago in the same poll, Americans viewed the withdrawal favorably, with 54 percent of respondents approving the decision to completely withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and 41 percent disapproving. Americans also viewed the decision to end the war in Afghanistan overwhelmingly positively in the September poll. 69 percent approved the decision to end the war, while just 24 percent disapproved. However, Americans broadly disapproved of the administration’s handling of the withdrawal. Just 31 percent approved of the administration’s withdrawal strategy, compared to 65 percent who disapproved. 62 percent of respondents also said they believed that troops would have to return to Afghanistan to fight terrorism in the future.

A Daily Wire poll conducted in August found a similar trend. The poll found that just 45 percent of Americans supported the Biden administration’s withdrawal, while 39 percent opposed. Respondents were also evenly divided on whether or not the military should have left Afghanistan. The poll also found that more Americans blamed the Biden administration for the crisis in Afghanistan than Trump. 36 percent blamed Biden, 21 percent blamed Trump, and 29 percent blamed neither.

The Afghanistan crisis began in August when Taliban forces overran Bagram Air Base and freed thousands of prisoners held at the base, including a number of al Qaeda members. Days later, a suicide bomber, who was one of the prisoners freed from the prison at Bagram, killed 13 US Armed Services members at the Hamid Karzai International airport in the capital city of Kabul. Hundreds of Americans were left behind after US troops, with unknown numbers of people still in the country.

The Quinnipiac poll also found that just 34 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of foreign policy more broadly, compared to 58 percent who disapprove, and 37 percent approve of Biden’s job as Commander-in-Chief of the military, while 58 percent disapprove. Biden’s overall job approval stands at just 38 percent, with 53 percent disapproval, according to the poll. His current approval according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls stands at 44.3 percent.

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