Americans Support Afghans—but Not the Taliban Government
The 2022 Chicago Council Survey finds broad support for taking in Afghan refugees but not for releasing frozen funds to the Taliban.
A year after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, and 21 years after the US occupation of the country first began, the United States remains deeply involved in Afghanistan’s future as the country struggles through famine and violence under the new Taliban government. Results from the 2022 Chicago Council Survey, conducted July 15–August 1, show that Americans broadly oppose recognition of the ruling Taliban government or releasing funds frozen by the United States to that government. But Americans support helping the people of Afghanistan through direct aid and by taking in Afghans leaving the country.
- There is broad bipartisan support for taking in Afghans who worked with the United States during the war (76% overall), and more limited support for any Afghan fleeing the country (56% overall).
- Three-quarters (73%) support providing food aid to the Afghan people.
- Few Americans favor recognizing the Taliban (14%) or releasing frozen funds back to the government of Afghanistan (18%).
Majorities Support Accepting Afghan Refugees into the United States
Since the collapse of the US-backed government of Afghanistan in 2021, over 76,000 Afghans have been evacuated to the United States. A majority of Americans (76%), including majorities of Democrats (85%), Independents (78%), and Republicans (67%), support the United States giving refuge to Afghans who worked with the United States during the war. A smaller majority also back acceptance of any Afghan refugees into the United States (56%), but this support is partisan. While seven in 10 Democrats (72%) and over half of Independents (56%) say the United States should accept Afghan refugees, only a third of Republicans agree (34%; 64% oppose).
At a time when Afghans are experiencing dire levels of hunger, exacerbated by the slashing of Ukrainian grain exports due to war, bipartisan majorities of Americans support direct aid to the people of Afghanistan. Three-quarters overall (73%), including large majorities of Democrats (82%), Independents (73%), and Republicans (64%), support providing food aid to the Afghan people.
Broad Opposition to Recognizing the Taliban, Releasing Funds
Though Americans support assistance to the Afghan people, they broadly oppose US actions involving the Taliban government. Majorities across party lines oppose recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan (83% overall, 91% Republicans, 81% Democrats, 79% Independents). Following the Taliban takeover in 2021, the United States also froze billions in Afghan government funds, a policy tied to the government’s ongoing involvement with al-Qaida and its now-dead leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Eight in 10 Americans (79%) oppose releasing those frozen funds back to the government of Afghanistan. That opposition is bipartisan, including nine in 10 Republicans (89%) and three-quarters of Independents (75%) and Democrats (74%).
This analysis is based on data from the 2022 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy, a project of the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. The 2022 Chicago Council Survey was conducted July 15–August 1, 2022, by Ipsos using its large-scale nationwide online research panel, KnowledgePanel, in both English and Spanish among a weighted national sample of 3,106 adults 18 or older living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 1.8 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for partisan subgroups or for partial-sample items.
Partisan identification is based on how respondents answered a standard partisan self-identification question: “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?”
The 2022 Chicago Council Survey is made possible by the generous support of the Crown family and the Korea Foundation.