Two weeks ago, 51 percent said the war wasn’t worth fighting. Now this. I’m not worried yet — the left won’t upset our savior by pounding the table and Obama won’t lightly betray his core campaign promise on foreign policy — but if ObamaCare ends up watered down and Afghanistan still looks bad next year, he’ll need to throw them a bone. And with the polling already this bad, he’ll have all the political cover he needs.
Like Politico says, if and when he does pull out, except it to be framed as a cost-cutting measure. Because he’s all about trimming those deficits, you see.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, with 42 percent supporting the military mission. The percentage of those in opposition to the war is up 11 points since April, and is the highest ever in CNN polling since the launch of the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001…
“Fifty-seven percent of independents and nearly three-quarters of Democrats oppose the war. Seven in 10 Republicans support what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Democrats mildly opposed the war in April while independents and Republicans favored it. But opposition has grown 18 points among Democrats and 10 points among independents.”
The poll suggests that nearly six in 10 think the U.S. can win the conflict in Afghanistan, but only 35 percent questioned in the survey say that American is currently winning the war.
An 18-point drop in just four months, before Obama and McChrystal have had a chance to try a new strategy. A cynic might conclude from that that the left’s support for “the good war” was soft all along and finally collapsed at the very first moment when it would no longer hurt them politically. No wonder the Pentagon’s getting nervous about The One’s commitment:
“I think they (the Obama administration) thought this would be more popular and easier,” a senior Pentagon official said. “We are not getting a Bush-like commitment to this war.”…
Pentagon officials said that White House officials have told them they fear that McChrystal’s expected request for more troops won’t be his last.
The additional troops are “only a down payment on what would be required to turn things around, and everyone knows that,” said another senior military official, who said that’s true in part because estimates of what the Afghan forces can do and when they’ll be fully capable of handling security threats are being downgraded.
Withdrawing would be the foreign policy analog to Obama’s interrogation policy: It’ll please the Hopenchange brigades and be tolerated by the cautious middle so long as there’s no trouble, but if the country’s hit again by some outfit based in Afghanistan, the public will turn on him viciously. From a political standpoint, he’s better off hanging in there until 2012, secure in the knowledge that the GOP won’t fault him for it and that lefty opposition will, in all likelihood, be manageable. And from a foreign policy standpoint, the last thing he’d want to do is give the Pakistani Taliban a safe place where they can regroup and eventually re-threaten Islamabad. He’s not going anywhere, in other words. For now. Exit quotation: “There are few things more toxic for effective civil-military relations in wartime than the military believing that their political commanders are not serious about seeing the conflict through to a successful conclusion.”