Americans' Faith in Afghan War Fades

The Pentagon and presidential rivals Barack Obama and John McCain all seem to agree on the need to send more troops to Afghanistan, but they are at odds with much of the country these days on the need to send more Americans into the lawless Afghan mountains.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll found that a startling 45 percent of Americans said they do not think the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting, despite the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which provoked the war in the first place.

The growing disenchantment with the Afghan deployment hasn't reached the level of national frustration with the Iraq war, but after more than six years with U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan and violence on the rise, Americans are becoming increasingly wary about the country's involvement.

Fifty-one percent of Americans now say that the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan has been unsuccessful, up from 24 percent in fall 2002.

Only 44 percent of Americans consider the war in Afghanistan a success, down from 70 percent in 2002.

The national poll of 1,119 randomly selected adults was conducted by telephone July 10-13, 2008, with a margin of error of three percentage points.

For Sholom Keller, a veteran who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it comes as no surprise that support for the war in Afghanistan is fading.

"I'm not shocked at all that American support is waning," Keller told ABCNews.com. "If we are in Afghanistan because the U.S. was attacked on Sept. 11, then I want to see the perpetrators captured and brought to justice.

"If we're not finding them in Afghanistan, then I don't know why we're there," he added. "And if they are there I want to know why we haven't found them in the last seven years if they've been giving troops the right intelligence and missions."

Experts on the Middle East told ABCNews.com that many Americans share Keller's frustration, blaming several factors, including the fatigue from hearing about not one but two wars, as well as pressing issues at home, such as the failing economy.

With Economy Suffering, Iraq Making Headlines, Some Americans Say 'Enough'

Judith Kipper, the director of Middle East programs at the Institute of World Affairs in Washington, D.C., said that the gap in the numbers this year compared with those from 2002 is "tremendous" but still understandable.

"It's battle fatigue," Kipper said.

"American don't want war; they know it's costing a lot and the worse the economy gets at home, the more people feel a lack of confidence in their daily lives," Kipper said. "The less confident they feel, the less likely they are to support foreign wars and adventures."

And while Kipper says Americans haven't forgotten the 9/11 attacks, the fear and shock that pervaded the country in the days and months following have since faded, just as American's interest in Afghanistan has.

"This is many years later and life goes on," Kipper said. "It's hard for Americans to relate to what happened years ago to their battle fatigue and war weariness now.

"[They care] about the problems that they're facing on a daily basis," she added.

The confusing nature of the war in Afghanistan — and the failure to locate Osama bin Laden — has contributed to American's already disillusioned vision of the war, Kipper said.

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