A majority of Republicans say for the first time that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that comes as the continuing U.S. presence in that country is emerging as a key point of contention in the presidential race.
The poll findings are likely to present a challenge for Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, who has said that the goal in Afghanistan should be to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield.
Overall, the Post-ABC News poll reflects a country bone-weary of war after more than a decade of fighting in Afghanistan and, until late last year, an almost nine-year engagement in Iraq.
Public support for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low, with only 30 percent of respondents saying it has been worth fighting.
Since the 2001 invasion, almost 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 15,000 have been wounded in Afghanistan. According to the poll, two-thirds of Americans think the war has not been worth fighting, equaling the most negative public assessments of the U.S. war effort in Iraq.
Although foreign policy has been a peripheral issue in the presidential campaign, the poll’s findings highlight the difficulty Obama and Romney face in explaining U.S. policy to an increasingly war-weary electorate.
Obama, who announced the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan at the end of 2009, is now drawing down those forces with the goal of turning over security responsibilities to Afghan troops by the end of next year. The president intends to bring home all U.S. combat troops by the end of 2014 — and he is tapping into the nation’s war fatigue on the campaign trail.