The Panjwai massacre, the most horrific example of US-caused civilian casualties in the ten-plus years of the war in Afghanistan, has contributed to another sharp drop in public support for the war in both the United States and Britain.
According to a New York Times/CBS poll:
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.
The increased disillusionment was even more pronounced when respondents were asked their impressions of how the war was going. The poll found that 68 percent thought the fighting was going “somewhat badly” or “very badly,” compared with 42 percent who had those impressions in November.
Meanwhile, in the UK, according to the Washington Post:
A poll taken in Britain and released this month by ComRes indicated that the percentage of those saying the war is unwinnable has grown from 60 percent last June to 73 percent, with 55 percent saying British troops should be withdrawn immediately, up from 48 percent in June.
For President Obama, that makes getting out of Afghanistan quicker than 2014 a lot easier, if that’s what he intends. The president is keeping his cards close to his chest, but this fall, when the last of the 2009 surge troops have withdrawn, Obama will have to announce the next step. He might choose to wait until after the election, but the latest polls show that would be a winning issue for Obama if he chooses to accelerate the drawdown.
As Obama blabbed to the president of Russia, Dmitri Medvedev, he’ll have more “flexibility” after his reelection. That incautious blabbing to an open mike signals, unfortunately, that Obama believes that doing anything dovish has to await his re-election. Paradoxically, dovishness is popular these days, at least on Afghanistan, and in this case, by announcing a speeded up pullout, Obama might ensure that he actually is re-elected. If he loses, well, he’ll have lots of flexibility then, to write his memoirs.