Post-Bin Laden, Americans Optimistic on Afghanistan

But more also now want to bring the troops home

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For the first time in two years, a majority of Americans say that things are going well for the United States in Afghanistan, according to a new Gallup Poll. Up four percentage points from the last poll in March, 51 percent of people responded that they believed things were going "very well" or "moderately well" for the U.S.
Notable on the chart above is the big spike in negative opinion of the war that happened in the middle of 2009. President Obama had ordered an increase of 17,000 troops to the country only a few weeks into his presidency in early February 2009 and July was the bloodiest month for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan up until that time. The year as a whole saw almost twice as many coalition deaths in Afghanistan as any previous year and it culminated with an Obama speech on December 1 announcing the deployment of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to an audience of cadets at West Point, while vowing to start bringing troops home by the summer of 2011.
Interestingly, the recent uptick in outlook was coupled with an increase in the belief that it was time for the U.S. to leave the country: Gallup reports that currently 59 percent responded that the U.S. "has accomplished its mission in Afghanistan and should bring its troops home," a significant shift from the 45 percent who answered similarly in a poll the night after bin Laden's death. "It is not clear whether [the earlier] result was affected by the euphoria surrounding bin Laden's capture, with the current poll perhaps showing that Americans have returned to a more sober assessment of the war," says Gallup's Jeffrey Jones.
It could also, of course, reflect a growing sense that we've now gotten what we came for--even if we got it in the next country over.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.