52% – 35% Majority Believes U.S. Should Leave Afghanistan Faster Now That Bin Laden Is Dead

New York, N.Y. – June 8, 2011. A new BBC World News America/Harris Poll finds that a majority of Americans (52%) believe that the United States should move to get its troops out of Afghanistan now that Osama bin Laden is dead. However, 35% believe that U.S. troops should stay according to the existing plans. Reasons why most people favor withdrawing U.S. troops may be that a 51% to 14% majority of adults are not confident that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful, and only 19% see the Afghan government as either an ally or a friend to the U.S. and 36% see it as unfriendly and an enemy.

These are some of the findings of a new BBC World News America/Harris Poll of 2,027 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 31 and June 2, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Other interesting findings in the poll include:

  • A large 66% to 20% majority of adults believes that it was better to have killed Osama bin Laden than to have captured him;
  • An even larger 66% to 18% majority believe that if the United States has very reliable information that a nationally wanted terrorist or criminal like Osama bin Laden is located in a foreign country…. that we have the right to perform a military operation within that country without notifying the government;
  • The public is split on the impact of the killing of bin Laden on world opinion, with 41% thinking that it has made the United States more respected and 41% thinking has made no difference. Only 7% believe that it has made the U.S. less respected;
  • Israel continues to enjoy very strong support among Americans, with 41% of adults seeing it as a close ally and a further 30% as a friend;
  • The fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt has done nothing to improve U.S. attitudes to its government. In fact those who see the government of Egypt as a close ally or friend (43%) are somewhat lower now than when this question was asked in 2009 (52%) and 2010 (49%);
  • More people see Pakistan as unfriendly and an enemy (29%) than as a friend or ally (20%); and
  • Many more people see the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan as unfriendly and enemies (38% and 36% respectively) than as friends or allies (22% and 19%). Attitudes to these two countries are only marginally less negative than they are to the government of Syria ( 16% friend or ally and 38% unfriendly and an enemy).

So What?

The killing of Osama bin Laden has done little to change the generally negative attitudes of Americans to the role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Only 14% of adults are confident that U.S. policies there will be successful, virtually unchanged since two Harris polls in June and October last year.

Perhaps the most surprising findings in this poll are that many more people regard the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq as unfriendly and an enemy than as friends or allies, even though they were brought to power as a result of the U.S. invasions and have been kept in power by the presence of US troops.

 

 

 

TABLE 1

PREFER BIN LADEN CAPTURED OR KILLED

President Obama recently announced that in a secret military operation, following a fire-fight, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by U.S. Navy SEALs. Do you think that the Navy SEALs should have captured bin Laden alive, or was it better that they killed him?

Base: All U.S. adults

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

Better to have killed him (NET)

66

54

64

63

79

Definitely better to have killed him

41

27

39

45

53

Probably better to have killed him

25

28

26

18

26

Better to have captured him (NET)

20

28

21

19

11

Probably better to have captured him

11

16

8

11

7

Definitely better to have captured him

9

13

14

8

4

Not sure

14

17

14

18

9

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 2

AGREEMENT ABOUT THE UNITED STATES’ RIGHT TO PERFORM MILITARY OPERATIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES

If the United States has very reliable information that a nationally wanted terrorist or criminal like Osama bin Laden is located in a foreign country, do you agree or disagree that we have the right to perform a military operation within that country, without notifying its government?

Base: All U.S. adults

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

Agree (NET)

66

58

67

65

75

Strongly agree

41

30

41

40

51

Somewhat agree

26

28

26

25

24

Disagree (NET)

18

24

17

16

14

Somewhat disagree

12

14

11

13

9

Strongly disagree

6

10

7

4

5

Not sure

15

18

16

18

11

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 3

IMPACT ON TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN

Given the fact that Osama bin Laden has now been killed, do you think that the United States should move to get U.S. military personnel out of Afghanistan faster than has been planned, or not?

U.S. military personnel should…

Base: All U.S. adults

Total

Gender

Education

Male

Female

H.S. or less

Some college

College grad +

%

%

%

%

%

%

Should get out faster (NET)

52

49

55

52

52

52

Should get out immediately

18

16

21

19

20

15

Should get out somewhat faster

34

32

35

32

32

37

Should stay according to plans

35

43

27

33

35

36

Not sure

13

8

18

15

13

11

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 4

U.S. RESPONSE WITH REGARD TO PAKISTAN

Given that Osama bin Laden had been living in Pakistan for several years, which of the following, if any, do you think the United States should do now that he has been killed?

Base: All U.S. adults

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

Make aid to Pakistan conditional on Pakistan’s cooperation in pursuing Al Qaeda and Taliban within their country

56

51

51

53

65

Cut off all aid to Pakistan

22

19

26

24

22

Cut off some aid to Pakistan

9

12

10

8

7

None of these

12

18

13

15

5

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


 

 

TABLE 5

RESPECT FOR THE U.S. AROUND THE WORLD

After Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs, do you think the U.S. is now more or less respected around the world?

Base: All U.S. adults

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

More respected (NET)

41

38

39

40

47

Much more respected

16

12

13

18

20

Somewhat more respected

25

26

26

22

27

No change

41

40

44

39

42

Less respected (NET)

7

8

7

8

6

Somewhat less respected

5

7

4

4

3

Much less respected

2

2

3

3

2

Not sure

11

14

10

14

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 6A

ATTITUDES OF U.S. ADULTS TOWARD VARIOUS COUNTRIES

Thinking of the governments of these countries – do you believe each government is a close ally of the United States, a friend but not a close ally, is not friendly but not an enemy, or is unfriendly and an enemy of the United States?

Base: U.S. Adults

A close ally/

A friend but

not a close ally

(NET)

A close

ally

A friend

but not a

close ally

Not friendly but not an enemy

Unfriendly

and

an enemy

Israel

%

71

41

30

22

7

Egypt

%

43

6

38

45

12

Iraq

%

22

2

20

39

38

Pakistan

%

20

2

18

51

29

Afghanistan

%

19

2

17

45

36

Syria

%

16

2

14

46

38

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 6B

COUNTRIES THAT ARE CLOSE ALLIES OR FRIENDS OF U.S. – TREND

Thinking of the governments of these countries – do you believe each government is a close ally of the United States, a friend but not a close ally, is not friendly but not an enemy, or is unfriendly and an enemy of the United States?

Summary of those saying a close ally or a friend but not a close ally

Base: U.S. Adults

August

2006

December 2007

November 2009

October 2010

May

2011

%

%

%

%

%

Israel

75

67

74

69

71

Egypt

45

46

52

49

43

Iraq

18

19

23

23

22

Pakistan

n/a

26

27

21

20

Afghanistan

23

23

21

18

19

Syria

8

14

15

14

16

n/a = Not asked

 

TABLE 7A

CONFIDENCE IN POLICIES IN AFGHANISTAN

How confident are you that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful?

Base: All U.S. adults

Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

Confident

14

16

17

15

11

Not confident

51

48

46

46

58

Not sure

35

36

37

39

32

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

TABLE 7B

CONFIDENCE IN POLICIES IN AFGHANISTAN – TREND

How confident are you that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful?

Base: All Adults

July

2005

May

2007

August

2008

April

2009

Sept

2009

Nov

2009

Jan

2010

June

2010

Oct 2010

June 2011

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Confident

25

22

17

27

14

12

15

12

12

14

Not confident

45

41

54

40

55

61

53

55

60

51

Not sure

30

37

29

33

31

28

32

34

28

35

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

Methodology

This BBC World News America/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 31 and June 2, 2011 among 2,027 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

 

The Harris Poll ® #69, June 8, 2011

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

 

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