Afghanistan War Is Now More Unpopular Than Iraq War
March 27, 2012 |
A protest in San Francisco against the Afghanistan war, 2009. Photo: Flickr/DCatty
There is no good war anymore.
According to a New York Times poll, 69 percent of Americans think the U.S. shouldnt be waging the Afghanistan war. That reinforces the findings of a recent Pew poll, in which nearly six-in-ten respondents supported bringing U.S. troops home ASAP. Its a major hemorrhage of support. Just a few weeks ago, the war was merely unpopular, with 54 percent saying it wasnt worth fighting.
The new low represents the crossing of a certain psychological and cultural threshold. It means the Afghanistan war is now at least as unpopular as the Iraq war was at the height of public ire. In fact, by some measures, the war to beat the Taliban the guys who gave safe harbor to the 9/11 terrorists is now more unpopular than the one to get rid of Saddam and his alleged stockpiles of WMDs.
Take a look at what Pollingreport.com tallies for the Iraq war. During Iraqs darkest days, in 2006, CNNs poll registered opposition to the war in the high 50s or low to mid 60s. It took until the week George W. Bush announced the surge, in January 2007, for opposition to reach 67 percent. At no time between 2006 and 2011 did the poll register 69 percent opposition.
Other polls record a similar reaction. From January 2007 through August 2010, the Gallup poll found the high-water mark of opposition to the Iraq war was 63 percent, registered in April 2008. Throughout 2008 and 2009, when Iraq seemed like a settled issue for many Americans hardened in either their support or their opposition CBS poll asked if looking back, invading Iraq was a mistake. At most, 62 percent of respondents said the U.S. should have stayed out.
The decade-long Afghanistan war is significantly longer than the Iraq war was. And unlike the Iraq troop surge, the Afghan surges tactical gains were more ambiguous. And that was before the war was battered in recent weeks by fratricidal attacks by Afghan troops against their U.S. mentors; the burning of the Koran at a U.S. detention center; and a massacre by a rogue U.S. soldier of 17 civilians, mostly women and children.
Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday that the upsurge in public opposition wouldnt make a difference to U.S. war plans. Im not sure what would be gained from changing a strategy thats actually working, he said.
But clearly its a change that the American public wants, and the opposition will make it harder for Gen. John Allen, the war commander, to slow down U.S. troop reductions. Politicians (mostly Democratic ones) used to contrast the allegedly-virtuous Afghanistan war with the allegedly-illegitimate Iraq one. Goodbye to all that and to the dubious, armchair notion that any war is good, rather than unfortunately necessary.