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Anti-War Stirrings Greet Call For More Troops

Fewer than half of all Americans see the war in Afghanistan as an essential front in the campaign against terrorism and just a quarter backs Admiral Michael Mullen's call to send more troops there, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

A slim majority, 51 percent, say the war itself has not been worth its costs, a negative baseline assessment that's unchanged from last month. Also essentially the same is tepid public backing for increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, just 26 percent back the idea. By contrast, 42 percent want to see the number of military forces decline; 28 percent say they should be "kept about the same."

Unsettling opinions about the war is that 48 percent now say the United States must win the war in Afghanistan for the broader war on terrorism to be a success, about as many, 45 percent say victory there is not critical. While this is not a big shift from previous poll, it's the first time the percentage seeing Afghan success as essential is under 50 percent. (This number never broke 47 percent for Iraq.)

Two-thirds of Republicans see an Afghan win as vital; a third of Democrats agree. Independents split 50 percent essential to 43 not essential on the question.

But troop levels are the topic of the day, and few across party lines back sending more; 39 percent of Republicans back increasing the number of U.S. forces, as do 27 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats. Fifty-six percent of Democrats and 63 percent of liberals prefer troop reductions.

Q. Do you think the U.S. must win the war in Afghanistan in order for the broader war on terrorism to be a success, or do you think the war on terrorism can be a success without the U.S. winning the war in Afghanistan?


Q. Do you think the number of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan should be increased, decreased, or kept about the same?


Q. All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting, or not?


SOURCE: Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted by telephone Sept. 10-12, 2009 among a random national sample of 1,007 adults, including users of conventional and cellular telephones. Results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

By Jon Cohen  |  September 15, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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I think the problem is that people think we should have already won this war.

Posted by: obrier2 | September 15, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Look, I'm ex-Army. I've done counter-terrorism ops.

And there are very few of us who think we have any achievable goals in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Bring the troops home.

They've been fighting for NOTHING for longer than we were in WW II.

End it.


Posted by: WillSeattle | September 15, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

First and foremost..The Bush era of Afghanistan strategy is in part the reason for the current situation.

That said, Afghanistan is territorial, in that it is made up of small mini-states with different cultures within a culture, religion (Shia versus Sunni), languages and dialects all separated by terrain which will never have connectivity.

We should focus on the main goal..To stop terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But, in an attempt to "buy" the hearts and minds of the Afghan people who by their religious nature will never ever accept Western ideology or democracy.

The government in Kabul is in name only. There will never be a centralized government in Afghanistan..NEVER.

For those of you who have never traveled in SE Afghanistan driving through where time stopped...then you cannot ever understand the futility of attempting a dramatic change in the next 5 to 10 years.

We have maybe another 24 months..until the American public realizes the the Afghan campaign lasts 2 TIMES longer than World War II.

We need to plan for this eventually..because it is reality.

SE Afghanistan/2003

Posted by: LTC-11A | September 15, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

No way!!!!!
Not until you tell us why our own Sentaors and lawmakers are doing fundrasing for CAIR the terrorist group right here at home.

If our own people are not seeing terrorists here why is the military then seeing them everywhere?

If we have enemies within close to our intel, clean that up before another is stuck on Obama's escalator ride into Osama's meatgrinder at Cousin Mohammad's Sausage Factory our own elected officials appear culpable in funding.

Quagmires are not where we should be.
Clean our own DC den of corruption up first.

Posted by: dottydo | September 15, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

are we still in Afghanistan?? could've fooled me. so who's paying for this war anyway? i keep getting tax cuts and rebates. wait, is this even a war? i don't remember Congress ever declaring war. i must've missed C-SPAN that day.

Posted by: millionea7 | September 15, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Here's another Obama 'free pass' .. let's get serious about politics vs. soldiers' lives.. it doesn't matter who the leader is.. is you are being fired at...

Posted by: newbeeboy | September 15, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

This is sad, but true. Iraq was a cakewalk compared to the challenges in Afghanistan. Iraq had infrastructure, money, cities, and natural resources. Afghanistan has nothing. There's so little to work with, it is hard to imagine that they can be built into a thriving nation.

Truthfully, it will probably remain a haven for terrorist activity, and it will cost us money year after year to occupy it in order to prevent that. What the US really needs is a new way to fight this war. Pour money into intelligence programs and counter-terrorism and concentrate on attacking individuals and radical groups rather than nations.

Unfortunately, this means terrible things for Afghanistan. If the US leaves, the Taliban will be back in a flash, and the people who helped oust them will be in very, very bad shape.

This is the cost of invading and occupying nations. It's extremely disappointing that our generation had to learn this lesson all over again so soon after Vietnam, but we were so self-righteous and sure of ourselves back in 2003 that nothing could dissuade us. I'm not even angry about it anymore, just sad.

Posted by: ponkey | September 15, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Enough already. Foreign occupations don't fight insurgency, they fuel it. The messier it gets, the more money somebody makes.

Posted by: SarahBB | September 15, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"Obrier2" has it right, we do think this should already have been won. And sadly, we are correct. But because Cheney/Bush had always planned to get Saddam (pre-9/11) they withheld the troop strength to finish Afghanistan right from the beginning. For gosh sake, the 82nd wasn't deployed. It was being "saved." The result was early "Afghanization" of the fighting and so Bin Laden got away from Tora Bora. Later Cheney/Bush would short change Iraq while proclaiming that mission accomplished. Stupid is as stupid does.
Trouble is, Iraq was always a bad idea. It was predicted in 1991 that if then Bush had gone into Iraq and collapsed Saddam after Kuwait the result would end up being a Shiite regime with strong ties to Iran. He listened to the experts and left an impotent Saddam in place. Cheney/Bush did not listen to anybody and so we will end up with a Shiite regime, thousands of dead, our own, Iraqi civilian, and a bad outcome.
But Afghanistan is a very different issue. First, it is winnable - the requirements are two fold - crush the opposition and build opportunity until the attraction of fundamentalism is a laughable joke. The reason for doing this is that Pakistan and Afghanistan are the keys to South West Asia where fundamentalist Islam has taken root. Make no mistake, this religion/political/judicial/economic system has zero tolerance for anyone or anything other than itself. It is prejudiced against women, kills all opposition and calls it to be in the name of God. Of course we must stop it. And as "obriers2" said, we should have been done with this already, but then we should not have had a financial collapse, a giant deficit, a stupid war in Iraq. We elected stupid and they proved just how stupid they were, we must clean up now and it will take awhile. Afghanistan is one those jobs.

Posted by: limejunction | September 15, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

If Afghanistan needs more troops, send Republicans.

Posted by: hamishdad | September 15, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

It would be a pity to get so close to a win then give it up for reasons that few can explain. They say "What is victory?"

I woud ask "What is so great about giving up?"

Never give up. Make the other side work.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 15, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

We were lucky. All the time in Iraq shielded our efforts in Afghanistan.

Now the buzzards have gathered to pick it apart.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 15, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are illegal. We have no business being there and we have committed war crimes in both countries. The only reason for these wars was to pump the military/oil monarchs full of hard earned money from United States citizens- billions that is. If we were to attach the masterminds of terrorism it would have to be through much more subtle means, not by destroying entire countries which are already full of problems. And the United States? We don't have problems to take care of ourselves before we can become the moral nation builders of the world? Excuse me, but we need to get out and bring to trial those who got us into these illegal wars on false pretenses in the first place. Obama- I plead you to get us out of the wars- NOW.

Posted by: sienna1 | September 15, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

The only things that have been ended by war, ( at least in our area ) are:




And I would have added Communism right here...until 52% of you voted for one. We'll have to work our way back from that poor decision of some of us, but, hopefully, without war.

Posted by: TXSFRED | September 15, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Apparently I misunderstood another Obozzo campaign promise. I thought the "change" he was referring to was a REDUCTION in our presence in the middle east AND a REDUCTION in the number of our troops in Iraq/Afghanistan.

So to you lib---turds; Does this mean Obysmal is after oil too?

Posted by: Bcamp55 | September 15, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it time to end the "Bush / Cheney" wars. They accomplished nothing but the death of thousands of American troops, cost Zillions of dollars & achieved nothing. The Republicans like wars fought with others sons and daughters, it's time to ignore the party of HATE ?

Posted by: wasaUFO | September 15, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

THe Left is conflicted. The war is unwinnable, their gut instincts are right on that...but since 2002, the Left has positioned itself that Afghanistan is the Good War, the right war...the war to help the noble Afghanis and above all - the War to find Bin Laden. While of course, Iraq was the Bad War, the war that "distracted us" from being in the Other war, the Good War..which was to find bin Laden. (Who is just one of thousands of dangerous Islamoid leaders, had a side role in 9/11, and is not in Afghanistan, but all signs indicate somewhere in Pakistan...)

Now that The One is trapped by years of saying he couldn't wait for America to redirect it's attention to The Good War...and rank after rank of the Democratic Left in the Congress also trapped themselves in Iraq the Bad War & Distraction, Afghanistan the Good War "we need to return to fighting so we can find this one guy" rhetoric..

The Lefties are trapped.
Hoist on their own Petard, led by the Black Messiah himself..

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | September 15, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

TXSFRED - The only things that have been ended by war, ( at least in our area ) are:




And I would have added Communism"


Nice, until you add to the list all the civilizations badly weakened or ended eventually by the repercussions generated by wars they won.

War is often as ruinous to the victor as it is to the vanquished. Witness the collapses of victorious Greek city states, through the Roman victories that turned to ashes, the Spanish Empire, the British Empire...America turned into a wastrel debtor nation from globalisation and countless wars and eroding trade deals, neglect of its infrastructure and education, healthcare systems while it tried to impose a Pax Americana over the last 70 years.

As for slavery, it ended naturally in the Americas by the 1880s due to economic forces and Christian movements.
Only in Haiti, the perpetual basket case, and in America - at a cost of 1/4th the economy and 660,000 dead did salvery end by war...and the War and Reconstruction poisoned relations for decades afterwards. America would have been better off avoiding the Civil War and watching agricultural mechanization and Christian movements end it naturaly within 20 years..

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | September 15, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Call for more troops won't do anything. That is what General Westmorland was asking in Vietnam, and after we had dispatched 500.000 troops there, we couldn't defeat the VietCong and we left in disgrace. Also, the call to increase the Afghan troops also happened in Vietnam. The South Vietnamese forces were increased from 210.000 to 600.000, but still they couldn't hold any ground, and some defected to VietCong because their nationalist instincts raised above the American monthly salary. And the same will happen if the Afghan government increase its troops to 600.000 because Afghans will not sell their country to an occupier for a monthly salary indefinitely.

The Republicans are "for" the war in Afghanistan because they own it. Obama should have foreclosed the Afghan war as soon as his legs got wet on the bloodshed going on there. But fearing a republican attack that he would jeopardise the "security of the U.S." if he withdraw - the Dick Cheney's narcotic argument to
justify it with his featherbrained followers and Fox News disciples- he decided to re-finance the Afghan War
and let the Republican retain ownership until his re-election on 2012.

Is this wise foreign policy? Hell, no. But politicians are serving their political contributors, and their
political objectives first. And unless the American public rise against the Afghan war en-masse -like in Vietnam- and scare Obama about his re-election in 2012, the war will continue. Not to serve the "security of the U.S., since in war we have to kill and that increases the enmity against us, and enmity will bring more terrorist retaliation against us.

Too bad we don't have statesman, but cheap politicians in the white house. When France's Charles De Gaule, a statesman, declared an end to French colonial rule in Algeria he also arrested and prosecuted General Zouo and others who objected. Unfortunately, Obama has become subservient to the "Military Industrial Complex" that the late General Eisenhower said in 1956 might actually controls the country one day. Add to that the Dick Cheney factor, and Obama comes up as a naive and clueless war blessing green-foot president. Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Posted by: Nikos_Retsos | September 15, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

How do you tell thousands of American men and women that the loss of their sons and daughters in uniform was for naught? Why is the Obama administration making a seemingly gradual withdrawal instead of a precipitous retreat?

The answer to the first rhetorical question is that there are tens of thousands of Veterans who would like to see some plausibility to the lingering sacrifice they make, every day, in the form of shattered bodies and damaged minds incurred in combat in OIF and OEF.

The answer to the second is just as subtle. The American ship of state, inherited by the present administration, is called the U.S.S. War Machine. Once plans are operationalized, men and women trained and deployed, nateriel manufactured and committed, contracts awarded and initialized, and battles won and lost on the unit level, even a hard aport or starbord ordered by the captain can take sea miles to cause a shift in the direction intended.

The Obama administration is loathe to shed even one additional life or spend one of the thousands of dollars per second committed to the debacle that the war for democratization had cost. It cannot extricate this country from this horrendous shedding of blood and dollars in the blink of an eye. It can, however, and will do all things possible to mitigate and ameliorate the suffering of the peoples of the countries invaded, and to reconcile the national view to the urgent need for planned and orderly disengagement from the old weltpolitik of the Bush administration.

Posted by: johnmorgan4 | September 15, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

If this was not so serious, it would be laughable that President Obama is up against the wrong and the right with a serge. He said the serge in Iraq would not work and would never admit when it was obvious it worked. Now he must decide to do something that he said does not work. Too Funny!

Posted by: steve90 | September 15, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

More troops, more troops, more wood for the fire... These ill conceived acts of vengeance, called beautiful names like "operation enduring freedom" have succeeded only in causing:

4,316 dead as of June 24, 2009. As of April 6, 2009 there were 31,102 wounded in action.

Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted August 12-19, 2007 estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War

Over 1.8 million refugees in Iraq alone.

Tell me again how worthwhile it was to kill over 1 million people to take revenge on one man, that we haven't even caught yet. You figure it out.

Statistics courtesy of Wikipedia.

Posted by: davideconnollyjr | September 15, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

It is time Obama to get rid of this nimrod and appoint a commander that will take orders from the commander and chef of US forces. If Opama doesn't replace this yahoo the way Harry S. Truman replaced MacArthur we might as well fold up and give this world to someone else.

Posted by: OldCoot1 | September 15, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

If 51% of us are opposed to the war, then it may as well be 99%! Bring all troops home from Iraq AND Afghanistan within six months. Both wars are costing us too much! One by one, Obama's supporters are melting away and he is destined to be a one-term president. He has a lot of domestic issues to tend to and he'll make it easier on himself if he'd concentrate on them instead.

Posted by: heatherczerniak | September 15, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

This is a good time to round up all the right-wingnuts and enlist them in the military so they can fight their war while the rest of us tend to taking care of our own people. That would be the Patriotic thing to do! They can start with Dick Cheney and then Rumsfeld , etc.

Posted by: inewsmaster | September 15, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Our departure from Afghanistan is long overdue. The Obama/Biden Afghani War is unwinnable. There is no legitimate reason to still be there after eight years.

Some fools seem to believe that this is a good war. There is nothing good about it. We should have been in and out of there within 24 months. There is no exit strategy. Get out now!

Posted by: alance | September 15, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Mr. President:

President George w. Bush brought about the war in Iraq and you have failed to put an end to it. You promised to bring our troops home but you are instead sending to Afghanistan.

Posted by: osramirez | September 15, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Afganistan appears to be the most defeated place on the face of the earth, despite protests to the opposite. The US has no intention of defeating or occupying Afganistan. We will be building schools, roads, sewage and water treatment/retention facilities. We are in point of fact the evil empire biatches and now you are going to get it.

Posted by: buddecj | September 15, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr. President:

Former President George W. Bush brought about the war in Iraq during his watch and you have failed to to put an end to it during your watch. You promised to get our troops out of Iraq but failed to tell us that you would be sending them to Afghanistan. You have miserably failed the American public!

The war in Afghanistan is a war of your making and you can't blame Bush for the body bags.

Mark my word, our country will be defeated as it was in Korea and Vietnam. It will suffer the same defeat that the Soviet Union experienced in Afghanistan. Wake up, and end your war!

Posted by: osramirez | September 15, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Obama should remember what Truman did to MacArthur .... With the record the Joints Chiefs have the Admiral should shut up & crawl in a hole ... BTW, where does the good Admiral park his Battleship in Afghanistan. ?

Posted by: wasaUFO | September 15, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Obama doesn't want to be saddled with what will happen in Afghanistan after US troops are withdrawn, so he sends in more troops to fight an unwinnable war. This war, which is now his, could end up destroying his presidency, the way that Vietnam destroyed Lyndon Johnson's presidency.
The real villain, of course, is the clown who sent us into Afghanistan in the first place--ex-President Bush.

Posted by: parkerjere | September 15, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

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