International and American public opinion compared

The outcomes of the many polls that were held in the US as well as Europe over the year also show that the dichotomy between American (and that of a small number of staunch allies) and the rest of international public opinion in general on the military operations in Afghanistan - that was already characteristic for 2001 and 2002 - continued when the war entered into its second phase.

This appears when we look in some more detail again at the geography of support and its evolution. Like other polling institutions, the Pew Global Attitudes Project tried to map with some regularity the evolution of international public opinion on the war in Afghanistan.35 The outcomes of these polls showed the existence of a clear and continuous gap between the US and most of the rest of the world. For instance, in a 47-nation, June 2007 survey of global public opinion, it already found considerable and widespread opposition to the military operations of the US and its NATO and other allies. Only in just four out of the 47 countries surveyed worldwide was there a majority that favored keeping military troops in Afghanistan: the US (50 percent), Israel (59 percent), Ghana (50 percent) and Kenya (60 percent). In 41 of the 47 countries, pluralities rather wanted US and NATO military troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible and in 32 out of 47 countries opposition to the war was even a majority view. This included seven out of 12 NATO member countries.

In 2008, in another poll, similar outcomes were obtained. At that time, pluralities in 21 of 24 countries wanted the US and NATO to remove their troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Again, of the seven NATO countries included in the survey, none showed a majority in favor of keeping US and NATO troops. Majorities in Spain (56 percent), France (54 percent), Germany (54 percent), Poland (65 percent), and Turkey (72 percent) already wanted an immediate withdrawal of their troops. Only in three out of the 24 countries - the US (50 percent), Australia (60 percent) and Britain (48 percent) - did public opinion lean more toward keeping troops there until the situation would be stabilized. Since that poll, views in Britain and Australia remained more critical than in the United

States, and in 2010 clear majorities in both Britain and Australia wanted their troops to be brought back home from the war in Afghanistan.

One year later, the war in Afghanistan remained unpopular in most nations surveyed. Majorities or pluralities in 18 out of 25 countries now wanted the US and NATO to remove their troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.36 In only four out of 25 countries did majorities favor keeping US and NATO troops in Afghanistan - the US (57 percent), Israel (59 percent), Kenya (56 percent) and Nigeria (52 percent). In only one of the eight NATO countries included in the survey was there still a majority in favor of keeping US and NATO troops in Afghanistan until the situation would have stabilized. Despite repeated American calls to NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, there was majority or plurality opposition to such action in all seven of the other NATO countries surveyed: Germany (63 percent disapprove), France (62 percent), Poland (57 percent), Canada (55 percent), Britain (51 percent), Spain (50 percent) and Turkey (49 percent).

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