Poll: Approval of Afghan War Slips, But U.S. Uneasy About Taliban Talks

Less than half of Americans approve of Obama's handling of Afghanistan.

ByABC News
July 15, 2010, 11:28 AM

July 16, 2010 -- Support for the war in Afghanistan has hit a new low and President Obama's approval rating for handling it has declined sharply since spring – results that portend trouble for the administration as the violence there grows.

With Obama's surge under way – and casualties rising – the number of Americans who say the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting has declined from 52 percent in December to 43 percent now. And his approval rating for handling it, 56 percent in April, is down to 45 percent.

Potentially complicating matters, the public by 51-37 percent opposes a negotiated settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban that would allow Taliban members to hold government offices if they agreed to stop fighting. That kind of deal commands far higher support in Afghanistan itself – 65 percent in an ABC News/BBC/ARD poll there in December.

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As views on Afghanistan have grown darker, they've improved on Iraq, a clear indicator these conflicts are most popular when they're least intense. Just 42 percent say the war in Iraq has been worth fighting, essentially the same as for Afghanistan. But that's arrived from the opposite direction, up 8 points in the past year to the most since 2006.

Seventy-one percent support removing all remaining U.S. combat troops from Iraq, scheduled to happen by the end of next month; fewer but still easily a majority, 60 percent, support keeping up to 50,000 non-combat troops there in a supporting role.

In Afghanistan, 45 percent call Obama's plan to start withdrawing troops by next summer "about right," but an additional 31 percent say it should start sooner.