The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Tracking the Issues: Afghan War Wearing Thin for Many Voters

by Newsteam Staff
March 13, 2012

A U.S. soldier eastern Afghanistan March 10, 2012. (Erik De Castro/Courtesy Reuters)


A Washington Post/ABC News poll shows 60 percent of voters  say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth the cost (WashPost), with Republicans evenly divided on whether the war has justified its price for the first time in five years. Of those polled, 54 percent  want to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan even if the Afghan army is not adequately trained to carry on the fight. The survey was conducted in the days immediately before the deaths of sixteen civilians (NYT) allegedly at the hands of an U.S. serviceman.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum — who said the United States did not owe the Afghans an apology (Politico) after the Quran burning incident — said in this case an apology is warranted (ABC). “This was something that was deliberately done by an American soldier to innocent civilians,”  he said. “It’s something that the proper authorities should apologize for, for not doing their job in making sure that something like this wouldn’t happen, something like this should not happen in our military period.”

Newt Gingrich, already on the record as considering Afghanistan an impossible situation, said after an apology, reconsideration of the United States’ role in there is needed. Ron Paul has also long been critical of the war in Afghanistan.

GOP candidate Mitt Romney was alone among the field of GOP contenders to stop short of saying it was time for troops to come home. “The actions of a deranged person are not going to shape American foreign policy,” Romney told Fox News. “That being said, we should on a regular basis reassess what’s happening in Afghanistan and any place for that matter where we have kinetic activity going on. And assess what’s the right course forward, are we making progress, are we not, what are the prospects for success in our mission and that’s something I would continue to do on a regular basis.”

The Taliban vowed revenge (USAToday) for the acts Monday but President Barack Obama said the incident will not lead to immediate withdrawal of troops (WFTV). “It does signal withdrawal in accordance with my plan with Afghans taking the lead, so we can get our troops home,” Obama said.

Conversely, German Chancellor Angela Merkel – in Afghanistan for a scheduled visit — said Monday that political reconciliation might not be coming quickly enough (Reuters) for Germany to pull out by 2014. “For that reason I cannot say we will manage this by 2013-2014. The will is there, we want to succeed and we will work on this,” she was quoted as saying.

For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates and Afghanistan.

Suggested Other Reading:

Read CFR’s latest Analysis Brief on the tribulations the United States faces in Afghanistan.

The back-to-back incidents of Quran burnings and the killing of sixteen civilians could jeopardize talks with the Taliban, analysts tell the New York Times.

The Washington Post’s Carter Eskew says Obama shouldn’t be blamed for the latest atrocity, but the war itself is problematic and seems driven more by a political imperative of the Democrats to seem tough on defense rather than military strategy.

CFR’s Max Boot argues in the Wall Street Journal that even amid protests over the burning of Qurans, Afghans do not want a return of the Taliban — and they don’t hate the United States.

—Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor


  • Posted by markjuliansmith

    The following is not proposing we line everyone up against a wall – as the whole of humanity would be waiting for the bullet or the gas canister – the following is about understanding the reason for violent conflict is foundation text not only external but as we see internal, which defines Other as less.

    It is understanding changing foundation text is key and with it the behavior in personal and institutional interactions with Other it informs.

    It is time Humanity faced up to the fact – you cannot have a multicultural society within which one or more of the cultures define Other as less particularly women.

    Also humanity has to finally come to terms with a ‘truth’ be it a secular text or a religious text and it has the same construct of Other the outcomes will be the same and for Zeus sake are the same.

    Afghanistan massacre: A search for answers as questions arise.

    “I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, .. ISAF deputy commander Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw said in a statement.

    I can – PACRATs: Pathological Altruist Cultural Relativists Assisting Terror

    Pathological Altruist Wars based on Cultural Relativism (placing local cultural interests ahead of US medium to long term interests) run by the US since WWII do not count as ‘Wars’ simply a means of losing precious lives of the military, resident population and vast amounts of wealth.

    This Pathological Altruist Cultural Relativism plays out on the ground where the Band of Brothers have to carry the burden of the in your face reality of the very societal construct they have been sent in to combat being enabled at every point – and knowing it is the case.

    The notion of the Band of Brothers through their bloody sacrifice enabling ‘Freedom’, accountable Democratic institutions, and enabling women to be ‘equal’ citizens, by the very ‘local’ societal construct whose foundation text denies even the possibility, is a daily psychological jarring which inevitably results in counter-terror. In Afghanistan it is much more stark because the foundation text against Other particularly women actually exists with extreme prejudice.

    In the counter-terror in Norway, the focus was on the elite which were determined as enabling the Pathological Altruist Cultural Relativism policy implementation, so as to force societal change in direction, utilising Islamists own tools, terror, against the elite based on exactly the same logic. In Afghanistan the enablers where back home in Afghanistan here where the actual proponents of the dogma against Other and women, which caused 9/11 and useless loss of precious fellow Band of Brothers lives.

    Clearly the whole Afghanistan exercise is for nothing – the terrible sacrifice for nothing – the foundation text the actual cause of the Terror which continues to be visited upon Western Democracies and the US in particular, internally and externally, remains in place to remerge once more in Afghanistan with a vengeance.

    Foundation text=ethics=ideas=motivation=actions for and against Other.

    Change the foundation text or change nothing the Terror and Counter-Terror continues – nothing has or will change in Afghanistan as long as the pathological Altruist Cultural Relativist policy makers remain in place.

    Policy on the ground should be based solely around changing the foundation text and therefore all the institutions and process which they reflect unless you are prepared to do this over a hundred years do not bother. Otherwise the construct which sought to destroy you remains – what do you think will happen – what has happened in the past?

    Clearly this requires a change in approach but I believe will result in much less carnage if the required level of support and intelligence in firmly but surely rerouting societal constructs against Other and women are brought to bare – first it has to be accepted this is the real problem facing humanity.

    It may mean local interests and participation are severely minimized for some time, judicial, religious institutions are completely replaced by overseen by outside rather than local personnel- so what, you want real change that is the price.

    This is war not a sensitivity competition for leaving a place in a worse mess than when you started.

  • Posted by Terry Conspiracy

    I agree with you. You do not say it specifically, but I think that we can assume that you are in support of Dr. Paul’s foreign policy of non intervention & full military draw back to American soil from everywhere. Well said!