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Survey: Majority of US Veterans, Public Believe Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Not Worth Fighting

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Majorities of the American public generally and US veterans specifically agree that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were not worth fighting, according to survey results released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center think tank.

More than 60% of US veterans surveyed stated that the Iraq War was not worth fighting considering the costs to the US. On the other hand, 33% of veterans said that the Iraq war was worth fighting when considering the benefits to the US. In comparison, 62% of non-veteran respondents claimed the Iraq War was not worth fighting, while 32% claimed it was. Fifty-eight percent of US veterans and 59% of non-veterans also said that the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, while around 40% of both veterans and civilians claimed the opposite.

“Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan are no more supportive of those wars than those who did not serve in these wars,” the study states. “And views do not differ based on rank or combat experience.”

However, views on the issue vary “significantly” by political party affiliation, according to the study, with Republican veterans being “much more likely” (45%) than their Democratic counterparts (15%) to state that the Iraq war was worth fighting. Similarly, 46% of Republican veterans said that the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting compared to 26% of Democratic veterans. The splits among non-veteran Americans’ opinions on both wars are “nearly identical,” the study states. 

Meanwhile, 42% of veterans said that the US campaign in Syria has been worthwhile, compared to 55% who disagreed. Thirty-six percent of the American public said US intervention in Syria has been worth the cost, while 58% said it has not been.

“Among veterans, these views are consistent across era of service, rank and combat experience. Republican veterans are significantly more likely than Democrats to say the Syrian campaign has been worth it (54% vs. 25%),” the study notes.

The survey, which was conducted in May and June, was based on results from 1,284 US veterans and 1,087 other adults. 

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