A Gallup poll on the tenth anniversary of the war in Iraq shows that a clear majority of Americans now believe that the war was a mistake. A full 53% of Americans say that America “made a mistake sending troops to fight in Iraq,” with just 42% arguing that it was not a mistake. The all-time high for the anti-war opinion peaked in the middle of the 2008 election campaign, with then-Senator Obama contrasting his opinion of the Iraq war with Senator Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’s. Since mid-2005, a majority of Americans have thought that the war in Iraq was a mistake, although the numbers seem to be gradually declining.
The numbers on the Iraq war strongly resemble the opinions of Americans on the Vietnam War, with 57% of Americans saying that the war in Vietnam was a mistake. That number is down 12% from November 2000. A small majority of Americans still believe in the Afghanistan war (51%), although 44% now say that sending troops was a mistake – an incredible number considering that the war in Afghanistan was launched in direct response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, which sourced from Afghanistan.
There is a vast party gap with regard to beliefs about the Iraq war. A full 66% of Republicans believe that the war in Iraq was not a mistake, but 73% of Democrats believe it was a mistake; 56% of Democrats believe that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake. Republicans are evenly split on whether the war in Vietnam was a mistake, while 69% of Democrats say it was a mistake. Democrats, it appears, have never met a war they supported long-term – which makes sense, since Democrat administrations and Congresses routinely undermine American efforts toward decisive victories abroad.
Surprisingly, there is also a massive age gap with regard to beliefs about the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. Americans 18-29 are essentially evenly split on whether the war in Iraq was a mistake, with just 50% saying it was a mistake, compared to 48% who say it was not. Older Americans are most likely to say the war in Iraq was a mistake, with Americans 65 and older believing it was a mistake by a margin of 59-36. The same holds true with regard to both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Vietnam. The Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers are most likely to oppose war.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).