Afghanistan

Slim Majority Supports Anti-Terrorism Action in Afghanistan, Pakistan

Public continues to support military efforts in Afghanistan

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds most Americans continuing to support the October 2001 U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, with only about one in four saying it was a mistake to send military forces to that country. This compares with nearly 6 in 10 who say it was a mistake to send military forces to Iraq. As new intelligence reports indicate that al Qaeda and Taliban forces are growing stronger in Afghanistan, the latest poll finds that slightly more than half of Americans would support sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan or moving U.S. troops stationed in Iraq to Afghanistan to fight terrorists in the region.

A slim majority of Americans would also support taking military action against terrorists in Pakistan, if the U.S. government had "actionable intelligence" about terrorist operations in Pakistan that the Pakistani government refused to act on. But, fewer than one in three Americans would want the United States to act without regard for the Pakistani government.

Afghanistan

The Aug. 3-5, 2007, poll shows that 25% of Americans say the United States made a mistake in sending military forces to Afghanistan, while 70% say it did not make a mistake. These percentages are essentially the same as they were when Gallup last asked the question in July 2004. Shortly after the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, fewer than 1 in 10 Americans said it was a mistake to send forces to Afghanistan.

These findings can be contrasted with findings from the same poll that show a much larger percentage of Americans -- 57% -- saying that it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq.

Although support for the war in Afghanistan is high across most political groups, Republicans (including Republican-leaning independents) are more positive about U.S. military involvement there than Democrats (including independent leaners). Only 9% of Republicans say it was a mistake to send forces into Afghanistan, compared with 36% of Democrats. A majority of both Republicans (88%) and Democrats (60%) say it was not a mistake to send forces into the country.

Recent U.S. intelligence reportedly suggests that al Qaeda forces are regaining much of their strength in the region between the Afghanistan and Pakistan border, and are even planning a major attack against the United States.

A majority of Americans would support taking action to fight al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist operations in Afghanistan, either by sending additional U.S. troops to the country (56%) or by moving troops from Iraq to the area (52%).

(Asked of a half sample) Would you favor or oppose sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to fight al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist operations in that country?

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2007 Aug 3-5

56%

38

6

(Asked of a half sample) Would you favor or oppose moving U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan in order to fight al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist operations in Afghanistan?

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2007 Aug 3-5

52%

37

10

Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to support sending additional troops to Afghanistan to fight al Qaeda and Taliban forces in that country, with 76% of Republicans and just 41% Democrats favoring this idea. However, Republicans and Democrats are equally as likely to endorse the idea of moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan in order to fight terrorist operations there, with 53% of both Republicans and Democrats supporting this.

Pakistan

In a speech last week, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama discussed the issue of strengthened al Qaeda forces in the mountainous region of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border and said, "There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

Asked what the United States government should do if it had "actionable intelligence about terrorist operations in Pakistan, and the Pakistani government was not taking action against the terrorists," a slim majority of Americans (52%) say they would support the United States taking military action. Forty-two percent would oppose it.

Despite majority support for the general idea of U.S. military action in Pakistan, a much smaller percentage of Americans favor the United States acting unilaterally without regard for the Pakistani government. Only 30% of Americans say they favor military action against terrorist targets in Pakistan regardless of whether or not the Pakistani government supports it, while 19% favor action only if the government of Pakistan agrees with the steps taken. Three percent of Americans are unsure.

Sixty-one percent of Republicans support military action in Pakistan if the United States had intelligence information about terrorism activity in that country, while 33% opposes it. Democrats are more evenly divided, with 45% supporting and 50% opposing such action.

Suppose the United States had actionable intelligence about terrorist operations in Pakistan, and the Pakistani government was not taking action against the terrorists. Would you favor or oppose the United States taking military action against the terrorists in Pakistan?

(Asked of those who favor the United States taking military action against terrorists in Pakistan) Do you think U.S. should take this military action -- [ROTATED: only if the government of Pakistan supported it, (or should the U.S. take military action) regardless of whether or not the government of Pakistan supported it]?

COMBINED RESPONSES

2007 Aug 3-5

Republicans (including leaners)

Democrats (including leaners)

%

%

Favor military action against terrorists in Pakistan

61

45

(Only if government of Pakistan supported it)

(21)

(19)

(Regardless of whether or not the government of Pakistan supported it)

(37)

(23)

(Unsure)

(3)

(3)

 

 

Oppose military action against terrorists in Pakistan

33

50

 

 

No opinion

6

5

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,012 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 3-5, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the 467 national adults in the Form A half-sample and 545 national adults in the Form B half-sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

31. Do you think the United States made a mistake in sending military forces to Afghanistan, or not?

           

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

2007 Aug 3-5

25

70

5

2004 Jul 19-21

25

72

3

2002 Jan 7-9

6

93

1

2001 Nov 8-11

9

89

2

Q.32-33 SPLIT SAMPLED

32. (Asked of a half sample) Would you favor or oppose sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to fight al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist operations in that country?

BASED ON 467 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2007 Aug 3-5

56%

38

6

33. (Asked of a half sample) Would you favor or oppose moving U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan in order to fight al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist operations in Afghanistan?

BASED ON 545 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2007 Aug 3-5

52%

37

10

36. Suppose the United States had actionable intelligence about terrorist operations in Pakistan, and the Pakistani government was not taking action against the terrorists. Would you favor or oppose the United States taking military action against the terrorists in Pakistan?

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2007 Aug 3-5

52%

42

6

37. (Asked of those who favor the United States taking military action against terrorists in Pakistan) Do you think U.S. should take this military action -- [ROTATED: only if the government of Pakistan supported it, (or should the U.S. take military action) regardless of whether or not the government of Pakistan supported it]?

COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.36-37): BASED ON NATIONAL ADULTS

           

2007 Aug 3-5

%

Favor military action against terrorists in Pakistan

52

(Only if government of Pakistan supported it)

(19)

(Regardless of whether or not the government of Pakistan supported it)

(30)

(Unsure)

(3)

 

Oppose military action against terrorists in Pakistan

42

 

No opinion

6

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/28333/Slim-Majority-Supports-AntiTerrorism-Action-Afghanistan-Pakistan.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030