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Support In U.S. For Afghan War Drops Sharply, Poll Finds

Posted: 03/26/2012 7:11 pm Updated: 03/27/2012 12:17 pm

Afghanistan
A U.S. Marine watches as an Osprey carrying Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrives at Forward Operating Base Shukvani, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 14, 2012 (AP Photo/Scott Olson, Pool)

Support for the Afghan War has dropped precipitously, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released Monday.

The results come after the killing this month of 17 Afghan civilians, allegedly by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who has been charged by the military with 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and six counts of assault.

Sixty-nine percent think the U.S. should not be involved in the war in Afghanistan, up from 53 percent as measured by CBS in November. A Washington Post poll conducted before the killings, but after burned Qurans were found at Bagram Air Base and after American soldiers were caught urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters, found that 60 percent said the war not worth fighting.

The poll also shows that Americans think the war is not going well for the U.S. -- 68 percent think it's going badly, with 35 percent saying "very badly." In addition, 59 percent think the war was not a success, versus 27 percent who think it has been.

A plurality of 44 percent think that troops should be withdrawn sooner than 2014, when the U.S. is scheduled to withdraw all of its troops and hand over control to Afghan forces. One-third of respondents agree with the 2014 timeline, while 17 percent want to stay.

More Americans lacked a clear idea of why the U.S. was still in Afghanistan. When asked why the U.S. was still there following the death of Osama Bin Laden, 55 percent did not know, up from 43 percent last fall.

Even among the 29 percent who did know, the responses were varied as to why the U.S. was there. "Fighting terrorism" was the generic answer given by 15 percent overall. Seven percent said to stabilize the country and 5 percent said to prevent the Taliban from taking control.

Just 1 percent said 9/11 -- the reason the U.S. invaded the country in the first place more than 10 years ago.

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