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(12/08/09) -

Britons Reject Gordon Brown’s Troop Surge in Afghanistan

Little change as most respondents oppose military effort and believe the UK made a mistake in sending troops to Afghanistan.

Little change as most respondents oppose military effort and believe the UK made a mistake in sending troops to Afghanistan.

The proposal to send an additional 500 UK soldiers to Afghanistan is rejected by a majority of people in Great Britain, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 2,004 British adults, 56 per cent of respondents are opposed to the plan outlined by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, while just 35 per cent support it.

The Mission

The views of respondents in Great Britain have not gone through any major shifts in 2009. A majority (56%, down three points) opposes the military operation involving UK soldiers in Afghanistan, while just over a third (36%, up one point) supports the mission.

As has been the case throughout the year, most respondents (56%) believe the UK made a mistake in sending military forces to Afghanistan.

A majority of respondents (55%) say they have a clear idea of what the war in Afghanistan is about.

When The War is Over

When asked about what they believe will be the most likely outcome of the war in Afghanistan, only 12 per cent of Britons foresee a clear victory by U.S. and allied forces over the Taliban, while one-third (33%) believe the conflict will end with a negotiated settlement from a position of U.S. and allied strength that gives the Taliban a small role in the Afghan government.

Significantly fewer respondents think they will see either a negotiated settlement from a position of U.S. and allied weakness that gives the Taliban a significant role in the Afghan government (16%) or a military defeat of U.S. and allied forces by the Taliban (10%).

Obama’s Plan

This survey was concluded after the official announcement of a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan. Overall, 36 per cent of respondents in Britain are confident that the administration headed by U.S. President Barack Obama will “finish the job” in Afghanistan, while 53 per cent express little or no confidence.

Analysis

Throughout the year, Britons have expressed low support for the military mission, and have consistently expressed regrets over the decision to send military forces to Afghanistan.

The level of rejection for the three policies—sending troops to Afghanistan in the first place, the operation itself and the proposed deployment of additional troops—stands at 56 per cent. The steady numbers suggest that a majority of respondents have made up their minds on this issue, and will not be swayed without a clear clarification of what’s at stake in the next few months.

It is important to note, however, that the confidence in the Obama Administration’s ability to “finish the job” is higher in Britain (36%) than in the United States (32%). Regardless, Britons are still opposed to sending more soldiers to the war zone.

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CONTACT:

Andy Morris, Research Director, London
+ 44-203-178-3952
andy.morris@angus-reid.com