In the early fall of 2001, when the rubble from the World Trade Center still thick but workers had lost any hope of finding more survivors, America retaliated. Using joint operations with special military forces and Afghan locals—led by Hamid Karzai, a rebel leader hated by the Taliban— the U.S. routed the enemy into Pakistan before the end of the year. Only then, things stalled. Now, the war in Afghanistan is the longest wars in the history of the U.S., and for the first time Americans are evenly split about whether it was a mistake, according to a new poll from Gallup.
While the Global War on Terror as a concept and the Iraq war that shortly followed have long faced skepticism, Afghanistan always seemed like a war of necessity. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama doubled-down on the idea that this was the war to win.
When Gallup first posed this question to Americans, “fewer than one in 10” thought that it was a bad idea to retaliate against the country harboring the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks and had the highest approval rating of any war since Gallup started asking the “mistake” question in 1950. Now, it has the second-highest “mistake” rating, tied with Korea in 1951 and surpassed by Iraq in 2004.
Still, Americans “maintained a generally supportive posture toward U.S. involvement in Afghanistan for a longer period of time than was the case for other wars.” Still, as time drags onward, the rising casualty rate and increasingly aggressive attitude from the Karzai administration, Americans are less likely to see that anything was gained by the war.
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What will be interesting is how these numbers are interpreted by both the opinion-media and the American public. Conservative outlet CNS News has pointed out that 74% of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan happened after President Obama took office and increased troop levels. However Politicus USA, cites the official Army history of the war as proof that the Bush Administration bungled early victories by ignoring the needs of the new government and using American resources in the war in Iraq. However, how costly these wars have been and whether or not that price was worth it is something only time will be able to tell for sure.