55 Percent of Americans Say U.S. Should Be Less Involved Overseas to Fight Terrorism: Poll

Twenty years after the September 11 attacks, a majority of Americans believe the United States should be less involved with other countries to combat terrorism, a new poll found.

Conducted by CBS News and YouGov and released on Sunday, the study asked if the U.S. should either get more or less involved in overseas engagements in order to fight terror threats. Fifty-five percent of respondents said the U.S. should be less involved, while 45 percent answered the opposite.

The poll surveyed 2,011 U.S. adults from September 6 to 9, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 points.

Both Democrats and Republicans reported similar attitudes, the poll found. Forty-seven percent of Democrats said the U.S. should be more involved, while 53 percent said the U.S. should be less involved. Among Republicans, 48 percent responded with "more involved," while 52 percent said "less involved."

The poll also asked Americans about their opinions on various efforts to reduce the threat of terrorism. Eighty-one percent of them said they support increased security at U.S. airports, while 79 percent said they back increased security at the U.S. border. About 66 percent of respondents were behind more restrictions on immigration and visas to the U.S.

Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed also said they support increased efforts to promote human rights around the world.

However, poll respondents were more hesitant to say they support military action. Only 38 percent said they backed more U.S. military action overseas, and 33 percent said they support military efforts to turn other countries into democracies.

The numbers differed significantly from the days following the September 11 attacks 20 years ago, prompting debate on how to best combat terrorism that continues to the present day. A Pew Research poll conducted from Sept. 13 to 17, 2001, found that in the immediate aftermath, 82 percent of Americans supported military action to reduce terror threat, even if it meant thousands of U.S. casualties.

Additionally, a report unveiled on September 2 by the Institute fo Policy Studies' National Priorities Project found that the "War on Terror" left nearly one million people dead and cost the U.S. $21 trillion. And a separate study released in February found that the U.S. has conducted counterterrorism operations in about 85 countries from 2018 to 2020, nearly two decades into the "War on Terror."

The new CBS News/YouGov poll comes less than two weeks after the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Many lawmakers and military experts have expressed concern of a heightened threat of terrorism following the Taliban's control of the country again. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the possibility of civil war in Afghanistan could lead to a growth in terrorism.

U.S. Air Force Plane
A new poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should be less involved with other countries. Here, a U.S. Air Force plane lands in Bagram, Afghanistan July 1. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images