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(04/18/09) -

Half of Australians Would Leave Afghanistan

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Many adults in Australia believe their country’s participation in the war in Afghanistan should come to an end, according to a poll by Essential Research. 50 per cent of respondents think Australia should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Many adults in Australia believe their country’s participation in the war in Afghanistan should come to an end, according to a poll by Essential Research. 50 per cent of respondents think Australia should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

Conversely, 24 per cent of respondents would keep the same number of troops in the country, and 14 per cent would increase the number of soldiers if asked by the United States.

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 without evidence of his participation 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 1,122 soldiers—including 10 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 1,100 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 the Afghanistan mission.

Yesterday, Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith discussed the mission, saying, "Australia welcomes and supports United States president [Barack] Obama’s new strategy for assisting Pakistan and Afghanistan. The strategy highlights the key objective of broadening and better coordinating international assistance to Pakistan in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, trade and economic cooperation and development assistance."

Polling Data

Thinking about the Australian troops in Afghanistan, do you think Australia should…?

Increase the number of troops in Afghanistan if asked by the U.S.

14%

Keep the same number of troops in Afghanistan

24%

Withdraw our troops from Afghanistan

50%

Don’t know

12%

Source: Essential Research
Methodology: Online interviews with 1,097 Australian adults, conducted from Mar. 17 to Mar. 29, 2009. No margin of error was provided.