The number of Americans who say the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting has increased for the first time since President Barack Obama announced at the end of 2009 that he would boost troop levels, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The finding may give Obama slightly more political breathing room as he decides how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan in July, the deadline he set 18 months ago to begin bringing home the additional U.S. forces.
In the Post-ABC News poll conducted last week, 43% of Americans say the war is worth fighting, compared with 31% in March. A significant amount of the fresh support came from the independent voters Obama is courting as he campaigns for reelection next year.
But a majority of Americans still say the war, which is in its 10th year, is not worth fighting, despite the killing last month of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
The 16-point bump in support that Obama received for his handling of the war immediately after bin Laden’s death has been cut in half, the poll found.
In addition, nearly three in four Americans say the administration should remove a “substantial number” of troops from Afghanistan this summer, although fewer than half of those polled think the government will do so.
The findings frame the national debate as Obama, who met with his national security team on Monday to discuss Afghanistan, nears a decision on how many of the roughly 100,000 U.S. troops to withdraw next month.