(CN) – Nearly half of Americans think the country has “mostly failed” in its mission in Afghanistan, the Pew Research Center reported Friday.
When a U.S.-led coalition attacked Afghanistan in late 2001, kicking off what ranks now as the longest war in U.S. history, it announced an objective of toppling the Taliban government from providing a safe haven for the terrorist group al-Qaida.
Military action did end the Taliban’s formal tenure, and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who masterminded the attacks of Sept. 11, was killed in Pakistan by U.S. special forces. But a 2018 BBC study found that the Taliban are still “openly active” in 70 percent of Afghanistan.
Partisan leanings on “Operation Enduring Freedom” have seesawed with power swings: during the administration of President Barack Obama, 42 percent of Democrats and less than 30 percent of Republicans thought the U.S. had succeeded. Now, with President Donald Trump in office, 48 percent of Republicans see U.S. success while just about 30 percent of their left-leaning countrymen agree.
Forty-five percent of Americans say it was the right call to use force in Afghanistan, down from 69 percent in 2006.
Over 2,300 U.S. military members have died, and another 20,000 have been injured, in Afghanistan as of July 2018. In stark contrast, over 111,000 Afghans have been killed in the conflict since 2001, including over 31,000 civilians.
In 2014, the Congressional Research Service estimated the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had cost the U.S. about $1.6 trillion, excluding ongoing veteran care.
Pew conducted the survey in September of about 1,700 U.S. adults.