Majority of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: Poll

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by AFP)

The US public is overwhelmingly in favor of ending the 20-year war in Afghanistan, but a majority of Americans say they disapprove of the way President Joe Biden is handling the troop withdrawal from the country.

New polling released Sunday by NBC News revealed that only 25 percent of respondents said they approve of Biden's handling of the situation in Afghanistan.

The survey, conducted August 14-17, asked respondents if they thought the war in Afghanistan was worth it. Sixty-one percent said it was not, compared to 29 percent who said it was.

The poll also showed that Biden's overall approval rating dropped to 49 percent—down from 53 percent in April—the lowest point of his presidency.

A separate survey, conducted by ABC News from August 14 to 17, found that 63 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s decision to pull US troops out of Afghanistan. Less than half, 47 percent, said they disapprove of the way the president is handling the situation.

The findings mirror a survey released last week by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which found that 62 percent of US adults believed the war in Afghanistan was not worth it.

President Biden had promised an orderly and safe withdrawal of all American troops and civilian personnel from Afghanistan.

However, chaotic scenes of panicked Afghan and foreign nationals scrambling to catch evacuation flights at Kabul airport have drawn criticism of the way Biden has handled the situation.

The Biden administration pressed on with the withdrawal even as the Taliban were rapidly advancing on major Afghan cities.

The Taliban offensive culminated with their seizure of the capital Kabul on August 15 shortly after president Ashraf Ghani had fled the country.

US officials have argued that their hands were tied by an agreement the administration of former President Donald Trump had signed with the Taliban in February 2020.

Under that agreement, the US was supposed to have withdrawn all its troops by May 1 of this year. Biden, however, pushed the deadline to September 11, then moved it forward to August 31.

The president has in recent days signaled that he might extend the military presence in Afghanistan beyond the deadline to help with the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies trapped in the country.

The Taliban said on Monday that such a move would mean “extending occupation” and that is “a red line.”

On Sunday, the Pentagon ordered several major commercial airlines to provide passenger jets to help with the ongoing and chaotic evacuation.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said 18 commercial aircraft would be used to fly evacuees both from the Middle East to Europe and from Europe to the United States.

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