The Washington Post Is Confused (The American Public Is Not)

Will Keola Thomas – Afghanistan Study Group

From an article in Monday’s Washington Post titled “Support for Afghan war rises, poll shows”:

“The number of Americans who say the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting has increased for the first time since President Obama announced at the end of 2009 that he would boost troop levels, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The finding may give Obama slightly more political breathing room as he decides how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan in July, the deadline he set 18 months ago to begin bringing home the additional U.S. forces.”

What happened?

Did President Karzai make a binding pledge to end the culture of impunity among Afghanistan’s elite and root out corruption in his government (and family) once and for all? Did Pakistan decide that it wasn’t really in their interest to provide militant extremists with a safe haven in its backyard? Are we winning?

Why would Americans, whose support for the fight in Afghanistan has declined precipitously over the last few years in response to the war’s skyrocketing cost in dollars and lives, all-of-a-sudden decide that the enormous price tag is worth it?

Oh, wait. They didn’t.

From the poll:

“22. All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, or not?

Worth fighting: 43%

Not worth fighting: 54%”

Apparently the editors at the Washington Post scrapped the more appropriate title for an article summarizing the poll, “Majority of Americans Think the War in Afghanistan Isn’t Worth The Cost,” because, well, it’s old news.

And since the poll was taken post-Osama, it makes some sense that a portion of the public would think that the war has (past-tense) been worth it. 9/11 has been avenged, it took us ten years but we got our man, etc…

But in their attempt to squeeze an eye-catching headline out of a poll that confirms what has been clear for a long time, the Post’s editors missed the real story: an overwhelming majority of Americans want a substantial number of troops brought home this summer.

“Do you think the United States should or should not withdraw a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer?

Should: 73%

Should not: 23%”

There shouldn’t be anything confusing about those numbers. They haven’t changed since the last ABC/WaPo poll was taken in March.

Alas, the Washington Post’s editors aren’t the only ones who are confused about the will of the American public. Senator John McCain, former presidential candidate, has called on Pres. Obama to withdraw no more than 3,000 troops in July. He told the Financial Times, “I would hope that it is very small,” in response to a question on the proposed drawdown.

With 73% of Americans demanding a substantial drawdown in July, the number of presidential hopefuls who follow McCain’s advice should be very, very small.

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One Response to The Washington Post Is Confused (The American Public Is Not)

  1. Pingback: Public Distortions and Persistent War « Blog

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