A Sea Change on Afghanistan?

The long war is hemorrhaging support among the public. As the NYT reports, a new NYT/CBS poll provides some rather striking evidence:

The survey found that more than two-thirds of those polled — 69 percent — thought that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. Just four months ago, 53 percent said that Americans should no longer be fighting in the conflict, more than a decade old.

Even National Review seems to be souring on the war, if a post from today’s Corner is any indication. As Michael Walsh observes:

This is not a Good War….It’s time to wrap up this decade-long farce, time for both civilian leaders and military brass to take a long, hard look at the demoralizing mess we’ve made in Afghanistan, and to ask how America can avoid such mistakes in the future.

Walsh goes on to derive several lessons (all of which were apparent to many of us long ago and were reinforced by our time in Iraq) and concludes:

There was nothing wrong with going into Afghanistan in the first place. The Taliban was sheltering Osama bin Laden, and it was there that the 9/11 plot was hatched. The U.S. was right to mount a punitive expedition and remove the Islamic radicals from power — a mission that was quickly accomplished, thanks to a daring, special-ops-led military strategy that quickly routed the fundamentalists.

And that should have been that. We should have declared mission accomplished, pulled out, and left the Afghans to their own devices. It never should have morphed — under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama — into a fruitless exercise in tea-brewing. Some backwaters will always be backwaters, and deservedly so.

I almost feel as if I just read a quote from a decade-old issue of the American Conservative or, for that matter, a Ron Paul speech circa 2002.

Returning to the poll results above, one might dismiss them as a short-term reaction to the recent events in Afghanistan. Or one might, following Michael E. O’Hanlon, (the Brookings Institution) and attribute the low levels of support to the ignorance of citizens. In his words (from the above cited NYT article):

“I honestly believe if more people understood that there is a strategy and intended sequence of events with an end in sight, they would be tolerant…The overall image of this war is of U.S. troops mired in quicksand and getting blown up and arbitrarily waiting until 2014 to come home. Of course you’d be against it.”

Perhaps. But it may also be the case that after more than a decade of war and nation-building, citizens have finally had enough.

4 thoughts on “A Sea Change on Afghanistan?

  1. As long as it is the policy of the USA to vilify Iran, we will never leave Iraq or Afghanistan. Occupying both countries creates a useful pincer around Iran. Of course, if Iran feels enveloped by enemies it surely will exercise every means available to defend itself, including the development of nuclear weapons. I wonder how Iran would act if it weren’t enveloped by adversaries in just this way.

  2. We have chosen not to win in either Afghanistan or Iraq, and will probably choose not to win in any future war, either. Our sons have become sacrifice on the altar of Political Correctness. Their lives worth so much less than any whom they fight. Platoons sent to roam streets to act only as bullet magnets, without any close air or artillery support. Platoons refused any support from air or artillery because some “civilian” may get injured. ROE’s compromising and criminalizing self-defense. Duplicitous negotiations by our political leaders with enemy leaders who continue to murder our sons. A backstabbing ally who is only nominally the president of a so-called nation.
    Yes it’s time to come home and end the farce of tea-brewing solidarity.

  3. One of GWB’s least positive legacies is nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. We would have been much better off going in, completing our limited scope mission, and getting out.

    Should I be offended that Michael E. O’Hanlon believes I want to get out of Afghanistan because I am ignorant and ill-informed?

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