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war-on-terrorism
(10/03/08) -

More Australians Want to Leave Afghanistan

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – More people in Australia want their country to cease its military involvement in Afghanistan, according to a poll by Field Works Market Research for the Lowy Institute for International Policy. 56 per cent of respondents want the mission to end, up 10 points since 2007.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – More people in Australia want their country to cease its military involvement in Afghanistan, according to a poll by Field Works Market Research for the Lowy Institute for International Policy. 56 per cent of respondents want the mission to end, up 10 points since 2007.

Afghanistan has been the main battleground in the war on terrorism. The conflict began in October 2001, after the Taliban regime refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked and crashed four airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

At least 973 soldiers—including six Australians—have died in the war on terrorism, either in support of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom or as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). There are currently about 1,000 Australian troops serving in Afghanistan, most of them involved in reconstruction efforts.

Australia held a federal election in November 2007. Final results gave the Australian Labor Party (ALP) 85 seats in the 150-member House of Representatives. ALP leader Kevin Rudd was officially sworn in as prime minister in December, bringing an end to the 11-year tenure of Liberal leader John Howard as head of Australia’s government.

Howard was one of the staunchest supporters of the military interventions in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Rudd withdrew all Australian soldiers from Iraq in June 2008, but the country is still involved in Afghanistan.

On Sept. 30, Australian defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon commented on the falling popularity of the mission, saying, "We expect that, but I remind the Australian community that our work in Afghanistan is not just critical to global security, it’s critical to Australia’s own national security so the government believes it’s important to continue our work."

Polling Data

Should Australia continue to be involved militarily in Afghanistan?

 

2008

2007

Yes

42%

46%

No

56%

46%

Don’t know

3%

8%

Refused

1%

Source: Field Works Market Research / Lowy Institute for International Policy
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,001 Australian adults, conducted from Jul. 12 to Jul. 27, 2008. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.