Was the longest war worth it?
After two decades of combat, Americans by more than 2-1 say the war in Afghanistan, launched in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, wasn’t worth it. In a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, 3 of 4 predict the Taliban-led country will once again become a haven for terrorists targeting the United States.
For President Joe Biden, the cost of the war’s chaotic end has been steep. His overall job approval rating now stands at 41% who approve versus 55% who disapprove – a big drop in the closely watched barometer of political health. Until last week, national polls generally showed his approval rating above 50%.
Now, while he has held the backing of 87% of Democrats, only 32% of independents say he’s doing a good job.
The poll was taken Thursday through Monday, when the nation’s headlines were dominated by scenes of desperate families trying to evacuate the Kabul airport and a surge of COVID-19 cases across the United States.
Half approved of his handling of the pandemic, 39% of his handling of the economy, 26% of his handling of the Afghan withdrawal.
“Today, President Biden’s overall approval has taken a turn for the worse due to his awful job performance rating on Afghanistan,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk Political Research Center. “His approval on immigration and the economy are also upside down. The only issue keeping him remotely in the game is his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, where he is barely at 50%.”
Biden’s decision to pull out troops was backed by most Americans, 53%-38%. But almost two-thirds, 62%, disapproved of the way his administration has handled that withdrawal.
“He basically handed the Taliban all these weapons, and he’s inspired a resurgent ISIS now,” said Aubrey Schlumbrecht, 51, of Lakewood, Colorado, a home health-care nurse and political independent who was among those polled. “He is not even taking any responsibility. He says he owns it, but he’s blaming other people and he’s blaming the Afghan people themselves.”
John Plaskowsky, 55, a business manager from Suwannee, Georgia, said the news media’s coverage of the tumultuous withdrawal has been unfair to Biden.
“I would say probably for the last 10 years they’ve been ignoring Afghanistan, then President Biden gets handed a horrible deal from the previous administration,” he said in a follow-up interview. While noting that he is a Republican, he said former President Donald Trump played a role by negotiating with the Taliban for a U.S. withdrawal that was supposed to be completed by May 1.