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On Recent Wars, a Surprising Generation Gap


Have older Americans turned peacenik?

Americans 50 and older believe the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars were all mistakes, according to a new Gallup poll.

Some highlights:

  • Iraq. A mistake, according to 57 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds and 59 percent of those 65 and older. Only 50 percent of younger adults thought so.
  • Afghanistan. This war, which began shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was seen as a mistake by those 50 and older but not by those under 50.
  • Vietnam. Only 43 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds deemed the U.S. involvement in Vietnam to have been a mistake, compared with 70 percent of older Americans.

Why such large generational divides? Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida in Tampa who studies older voters, has an idea.

"Seniors have the longest memory of the costs and consequences of post-World War II conflicts," MacManus says. "They see little benefit to the U.S. from these conflicts. At the same time these wars have taken their toll in terms of lost American lives and costs, many seniors believe America's stature in the world has diminished."


Illustration: Jorgen Carlberg via Wikipedia

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