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One-in-Three Vets Say Iraq, Afghan Wars Were Not Worth It

Pew report examines attitudes on conflicts, terrorism and burdens and rewards of military

Image: A soldier with an injured ankle from the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division is assisted past his burning M-ATV armored vehicle after it struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan
A U.S. soldier with an injured ankle is assisted past his burning vehicle after it struck an improvised explosive device (IED) on a road near Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley, Afghanistan, on July 23, 2010. (Photo credit: Bob Strong / Reuters, file)

The Associated Press via MSNBC.com
October 4, 2010

One in three U.S. veterans of the post-9/11 military believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting, and a majority think that after 10 years of combat America should be focusing less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems, according to an opinion survey released Wednesday.

The findings highlight a dilemma for the Obama administration and Congress as they struggle to shrink the government’s huge budget deficits and reconsider defense priorities while trying to keep public support for remaining involved in Iraq and Afghanistan for the longer term.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and about 1,700 in Afghanistan. Combined war costs since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have topped $1 trillion.

The poll results presented by the Pew Research Center portray post-9/11 veterans as proud of their work, scarred by warfare and convinced that the American public has little understanding of the problems that wartime service has created for military members and their families. …

The report’s key findings were:

  • Half of post-9/11 veterans say the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, while about 44 percent view the conflict in Iraq the same way. Only one-third (34 percent) say that both wars have been worth fighting and 33 percent say that neither war has been worth the cost.
  • Forty-four percent of post-9/11 veterans report that they have had difficulties readjusting to civilian life, and 37 percent say that — whether or not they have been diagnosed – they have suffered from post-traumatic stress.
  • Eighty-four percent of these modern-era veterans say the general American public has little or no understanding of the problems they face, with 71 percent of the public agreeing.
  • Overall, 16 percent of post-9/11 veterans report they were seriously injured while serving in the military, and most of the injuries were combat-related. Forty-seven percent say they know and have served with someone who was killed while in the military.
  • Many Americans agree that since the terror attacks in the U.S., the military and their families have made more sacrifices than the general public. But even among this group, only 26 percent say this gap is “unfair,” while 70 percent say that it’s “just part of being in the military”.
  • A vast majority [of the American public] expressed pride in the troops and three-quarters say they thanked someone in the military. But a 45 percent plurality say neither of the post-9/11 wars has been worth the cost and only a quarter say they are following news of the wars closely. Half of the public said the wars have made little difference in their lives.
  • About half (51 percent) of post-9/11 veterans say that the use of military force to fight terrorism creates hatred that breeds more terrorism; 40 percent say it is the best way to defeat terrorism. These views are nearly identical to those of the general public.
  • When asked about the draft, both veterans and the public agreed: The nation should not bring back the military draft, which was ended in 1973. Among post-9/11 veterans, 82 percent said they’re against reinstating the draft, compared with 66 percent of pre-9/11 era veterans and 74 percent of the general public. …

Of the surveyed former service members who were seriously wounded or knew someone who was killed or seriously wounded, 48 percent said the war in Iraq was worth fighting, compared with 36 percent of those veterans who had no personal exposure to casualties. [This finding is indicative of cognitive dissonance.]

Full story

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Read the Pew report on veterans’ attitudes (PDF)

Image: Graphic from Pew military poll
Graphic: J. Magno / AP

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Video

Poll: 33% of veterans say wars not worth it (NBC Nightly News, Oct. 5, 2011) – In a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 34 percent of combat veterans said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were worth fighting. Nearly half said the wars put a strain on their lives at home. NBCs Jim Miklaszewski reports. (02:13)

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Related reports on this site

Senseless Waste of Taxpayer Dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan (Aug. 31, 2011)

U.S. Taxpayers Help Fund Killing of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
(Aug. 17, 2011)

Endless U.S. War Price Tag Hits $4 Trillion (June 29, 2011)

Breathtaking Afghan Corruption (Dec. 2, 2010)

Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010)

Colossal Taxpayer Waste in Iraq (Aug. 29, 2010)

Iraq Projects Down the Tubes (Nov. 21, 2009)

Iraqi Neglect Costs U.S. Taxpayers (April 29, 2009)

Trillion-Dollar Wars Since 9/11 (March 30, 2009)

Feds Widen Iraq Corruption Probe (Feb. 15, 2009)

Iraq Rebuilding ‘$100 Billion Failure’ (Dec. 14, 2008)

Billions Lost on Reconstruction Projects in Iraq (July 28, 2008)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

One Year Ago — October 5, 2010

Jacob Wetterling Kidnapping — Latest News

One year ago today, I reported that Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner announced that nothing of consequence was found in the July 2010 search of the Rassier farmstead in the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping investigation; however, he added that technology could eventually improve to the extent that it would allow for future testing of the items seized.

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Two Years Ago — October 5, 2009

Taliban Leader Vows Revenge

Two years ago today, on October 5, 2009, I reported that the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, threatened to strike back at Pakistan and the United States to retaliate for airstrikes by unmanned U.S. drones in northwestern Pakistan.

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Three Years Ago — October 5, 2008

Decisive Military Victory in Afghanistan ‘Impossible’

Three years ago today, on October 5, 2008, I reported that the senior British commander in Afghanistan said that a decisive military victory in Afghanistan was impossible and that the objective in Afghanistan should be to achieve a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat. I also reported on a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan and ongoing violence in Iraq.

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One Response to “Many Veterans Sour on Iraq and Afghanistan Wars”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » On 10th Anniversary of Invasion, Anti-American Demonstration in Afghanistan Says:

    [...] Many Veterans Sour on Iraq and Afghanistan Wars (Oct. 5, 2011) [...]

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