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September 30, 2009
By Jodie Allen, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog
President Barack Obama may find little comfort in public opinion polls both at home and abroad as he considers further troop deployments in Afghanistan and using military force to confront other challenges around the globe.
Close to home, surveys taken over the course of the last several years find declining appetite among the U.S. public for armed interventions overseas. Most recently, in a Sept. 22 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, just half (50 percent) of Americans now say that U.S. and NATO troops should remain in Afghanistan "until the situation has stabilized." This is a notable decline from the 57 percent who said so as recently as June, when 54 percent also said they approved of Obama's decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan early this year.
Resistance to military engagement in Afghanistan has risen despite that fact that in the same September survey a substantial majority of the public (76 percent) rates the possibility of the Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan as a major threat to the well-being of the United States. As the survey report notes, nearly as many regard the return of Taliban control as a major threat as say the same about the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons (82 percent).