A narrow majority of U.S. voters when surveyed were in favour of US President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and to reduce the country’s military presence in Afghanistan. This was demonstrated by the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll.
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In the poll, 52% of respondents said they back the moves in Syria and Afghanistan, while 48% said that they oppose the troop withdrawals and reductions.
However, a larger majority of 69% respondent said that it is important for the U.S. to keep ground troops in the Middle East.
Within this bracket, 23% said it is “very important,” while 46% said that it is “somewhat important,” the poll found.
When asked whether they “think U.S. ground troops should be kept in places like Syria and Iraq to maintain security in the region” or if they “think it is better to withdraw our troops from such areas,” 54 percent of respondents said that it is better to keep troops there, while 46 percent said that U.S. forces should be withdrawn from the region.
Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, said that the simultaneous support for the troop withdrawal and for keeping U.S. forces in the Middle East signals that voters are willing to trust Trump’s military judgement.
“A majority supports the president’s decision to remove troops from Syria despite their general view they would keep troops there,” Penn said. “This suggests that they would have supported either decision but are going with the president on this one. Their reasoning goes like this: ‘if a president as pro military as Trump wants the troops out, maybe he is right”.
Trump announced he would completely remove the approximately 2,000 troops in Syria battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), while he said he would cut in half the roughly 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The announcements contributed to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS.
Internationally, while Russia and Pakistan have welcomed the pull-out decision, European allies of US have expressed shock and expressed concern for their own troops efforts in the region. Even within the Republican bloc in US, the decision has received slack.