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Two-thirds of vets don’t think Iraq, Afghanistan wars were worth fighting, poll finds

U.S and Afghan forces patrol in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Jan. 1, 2014. (SSG Bertha A. Flores/U.S. Army)
July 12, 2019

A majority of surveyed veterans don’t believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were worth fighting.

A newly released Pew Research Center poll surveyed 1,284 veterans and found that 64 percent of them described the Iraq war as “not worth fighting” and 58 percent answered the same for the war in Afghanistan.

The results are identical to the thoughts of the general American public, of which 62 percent believed the Iraq war was not worth fighting and 59 percent believed the Afghanistan war was not worth fighting.

The poll found little difference in veterans who specifically served in either war.

“Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan are no more supportive of those engagements than those who did not serve in these wars. And views do not differ based on rank or combat experience,” the report noted.

The poll found that veterans who identified as Republican were more likely than those who identified as Democrat to have the belief that the wars were worth fighting.

The report notes that “45% of Republican veterans vs. 15% of Democratic veterans say the war in Iraq was worth fighting, while 46% of Republican veterans and 26% of Democratic veterans say the same about Afghanistan.”

Views on the military’s presence in Syria are similar, with little difference between veterans and the general public.

“Among veterans, 42% say the campaign in Syria has been worth it, while 55% say it has not. The public has very similar views: 36% say U.S. efforts in Syria have been worthwhile, while 58% say they have not,” the Pew report said.

Republican veterans were also more likely to support the U.S. involvement in Syria, with 54 percent saying the campaign was worthwhile, versus 25 percent of Democratic veterans.

The report noted that the responses were consistent regardless of rank, combat experience or time of service.

Although veterans are largely against the U.S. involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, they are predominantly supportive of President Donald Trump’s job performance as commander in chief.

A separate report from the same study also revealed that 57 percent of veterans approve of Trump’s performance, compared to just 41 percent of the general American public.

Veterans who identified themselves as Republicans were overwhelmingly supportive of Trump, with 92 percent approving of his performance – higher than the 81 percent of Republicans in the general public that support Trump.

When Democrat-affiliated veterans were asked, however, just six percent approved of Trump, compared to eight percent of Democrats in the general public.