Most Veterans Say Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Weren't Worth It: Pew Report

A U.S. Special Operations soldier returns fire while conducting multi-day Afghan-led offensive operations against the Taliban in Mohammad Agha district, Logar Province, Afghanistan, July 28, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Nicholas Byers)
A U.S. Special Operations soldier returns fire while conducting multi-day Afghan-led offensive operations against the Taliban in Mohammad Agha district, Logar Province, Afghanistan, July 28, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Nicholas Byers)

A majority of veterans taking part in a new research study says that the cost and burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan outweigh any successes or progress made in either conflict.

A Pew Research Center report published Wednesday states that 64% -- or almost two-thirds -- of veterans polled in a new survey said the Iraq war "was not worth fighting," and 58% said the same about the war in Afghanistan.

Pew surveyed 1,284 U.S. military veterans between May 14 and June 3. It conducted a parallel survey of 1,087 U.S. adults May 14-24 to compare findings.

Related: Veterans Approve of Trump, But Don't Want Space Force, Pew Study Finds

"Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan are no more supportive of those engagements than those who did not serve in these wars," the report states. More than 60 percent of Americans felt the same about the Iraq War; 59% of the public surveyed agreed on Afghanistan.

There's a growing negative outlook for the conflict in Syria as well: 55% of veterans polled were pessimistic about the campaign. Only 36% of the general public said U.S. efforts in Syria have been "worthwhile."

"Views do not differ based on rank or combat experience," the researchers said.

However, there was a divide among political parties.

Republican and Republican-leaning veterans "are much more likely than veterans who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party to say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were worth fighting: 45% of Republican veterans vs. 15% of Democratic veterans say the war in Iraq was worth fighting, while 46% of Republican veterans and 26% of Democratic veterans say the same about Afghanistan," the study found. The same was true for the non-veteran population.

Additionally, Republican veterans "are significantly more likely than Democrats to say the Syrian campaign has been worth it (54% vs. 25%)," the report states.

The study also asked about U.S. veterans' outlook on President Donald Trump's presidency thus far.

A majority of vets -- 57% -- approve of the way the president is handling his duties as commander in chief. Like opinions on the Middle East conflicts, the biggest divide among respondents was by political party.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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