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Public Support For Afghan War Drops Sharply In United States


U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (center) meeting NATO troops in Afghanistan earlier this month. Sixty-nine percent of Americans now say the United States should not be involved in the war there.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (center) meeting NATO troops in Afghanistan earlier this month. Sixty-nine percent of Americans now say the United States should not be involved in the war there.

Support among Americans for the war in Afghanistan has dropped sharply, according to a new poll conducted by "The New York Times" and CBS News.

More than two-thirds of those polled (69 percent) said the United States should not be involved in the war.

Only 53 percent said the same thing four months ago.

The drop is being linked to the killing of NATO soldiers by Afghan troops, and the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians, allegedly by a U.S. soldier.

The poll also found that 68 percent think the effort in Afghanistan is going "somewhat badly" or "very badly" -- a sharp increase from the 42 percent who said so last November.

Nearly half of respondents (44 percent) said U.S. troops should return home sooner than the planned drawdown in 2014.

Speaking at a meeting of North American defense ministers in Ottawa, Canada, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta maintained that public opinion polls would not dictate the conduct of operations in Afghanistan.

"We cannot fight wars by polls," he said. "If we do that we're in deep trouble. We have to operate based on what we believe is the best strategy to achieve the mission that we are embarked on. And the mission here is to safeguard our country by ensuring that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda never again find a safe haven in Afghanistan."

With reporting by "The New York Times" and Reuters
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