US Public: Wars In Iraq and Afghanistan 'Failures'

New poll finds bleak outlooks, with Republican attitudes towards Iraq war significantly more grim
– Sarah Lazare

Protest in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday March 21, 2009 for the International Day of Action on the 6th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq. (Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle)The U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — two of the longest in U.S. history, waged simultaneously for nearly 9 years with the Afghanistan war now stretching into its 13th — are considered failures by a majority of the U.S. public.
This is according to a poll, released Thursday by Pew Research Center and USA Today, which finds that 52% say the U.S. “mostly failed” to reach its goals in Iraq, with 37% saying “it has mostly succeeded.” Respondents gave nearly identical answers when asked about the war in Afghanistan.
“Especially looking at the escalating sectarianism and violence today that is directly the result of the U.S. wars and occupations, it is not surprising that an even a bigger majority recognizes that these wars are failures,” said Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at Institute for Policy Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams.
The assessments reflected in the poll, which was conducted Jan. 15-19 with 1,504 adult respondents, are significantly more bleak than previous ones. In November 2011, 56% of respondents said the U.S. had achieved its goals in Iraq, and in June 2011, 58% predicted that the U.S. would achieve its goals in Afghanistan.
Regarding the Iraq war, the biggest shift came from Republicans whose outlooks have grown far more grim. In 2011, 65% of republican respondents said that war was a success — a number that has now dwindled to 38%.
Overall support for the invasion of Iraq has plummeted. At the start of the war, U.S. respondents said it was the right decision, but now 50%-38% say it was the wrong one.
While the public narrowly supports the decision to invade Afghanistan, this support is “among the lowest levels of support for the original decision to use force in Afghanistan since the Pew Research Center began asking the question eight years ago,” according to Pew.
“It seems to me that the majority of the American people long ago recognized that these wars are failures,” said Bennis.
“People have different reasons for thinking it is a failure,” she added. “That the wars were based on lies, were not based on a search for justice but rather a search for vengeance, were never able to provide security or democracy for Iraqis and Afghans despite efforts to impose U.S.-style political forms.”

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