Thursday, August 20, 2009

Majority of Americans now against the Afghan War

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to a new WaPo-ABC poll, a majority of Americans (51%) now opposes the war in Afghanistan. As expected, the divide is largely partisan, with most Republicans continuing to support the war -- and, interestingly, supporting Obama's handling of the war so far. On the other side, Democrats overwhelmingly oppose the war -- including, of course, a possible troop increase, one of the key elements of Obama's Afghan policy. And why has this happened? It's not as if the war has gone all that badly. No, it hasn't gone exceptionally well either, but it isn't Iraq. I would argue that one of the key reasons is that, simply, the war now seems pointless. What is the war for? What would constitute victory? When could the troops come home? Those questions just don't seem to have any satisfactory answers anymore, if they ever did, and it may well be too late even for Obama to answer them to the satisfaction of the American people outside of the hawkish right. There is still a role for the U.S. military to play in the region, I would argue, but the Afghan War as it is currently being conducted -- and probably also as it would be conducted with a sizeable troop increase -- is largely indefensible.

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