Foreign Affair’s Expert Survey: Is Washington Right to Leave Afghanistan?


  • Article
  • 25 Aug 2021
  • 2 min read


The impact of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Taliban’s takeover, has reverberated across the globe. But the debate regarding US withdrawal predates recent events and has been ongoing for well over a decade. In June 2021, Foreign Affairs surveyed a number of leading policy makers, scholars, and policy analysts, including Chatham House’s Dr Leslie Vinjamuri and Hameed Hakimi about whether they thought Washington was right to withdraw. 

Although there is evidence that Americans have supported withdrawal from the forever wars, with 70 per cent of respondents stating they supported a US withdrawal by 11 September, recent polls reveal a more complicated picture. An IPSOS poll from 16 August 2021 showed that 44 per cent of respondents stated Biden did a ‘good job’ in Afghanistan, compared to 51 per cent of respondents when asked about Obama’s and Trump’s handling. 

A YouGov poll from 18-20 August 2021 found only 21 per cent of respondents stating the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was going somewhat well, while 44 per cent stated the withdrawal was going very badly. An AP/NORC poll from 12-16 August showed that only 35 per cent of Americans surveyed believed the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting at all, with 65 per cent of those surveyed stating they were extremely concerned about extremist threats from within the United States, compared with 50 per cent who were extremely concerned about threats based outside the United States.

Views amongst the US foreign policy establishment have been divided, as has opinions of scholars and policymakers.

For the full survey conducted by Foreign Affairs on whether Washington was right to withdraw, visit: