Afghanistan: What Americans really think
The pundits have spoken. Now, how does the rest of America feel about the war and more troops in Afghanistan? Conflicted but reluctantly supportive, it seems.
Stone Mountain, Ga.
It’s Oktoberfest weekend in America, but behind all those Rockwellian bratwurst feasts and open-air concerts lurks a nagging and building concern among many Americans over a faraway place: Afghanistan.Skip to next paragraph
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Polls show that Americans are begrudgingly getting used to perpetual wars, and just over half of Americans support the eight-year mission in Afghanistan, which has cost more than 800 American lives so far.
President Obama now faces a critical decision over whether or not to send up to 40,000 more troops to that critical Middle East outpost. The decision, according to Americans like Barbara Jones, could impact not only Obama’s legacy, but national security, soldiers’ sacrifices, and future conflicts.
“I’m so nervous for him and the world,” says Ms. Jones, an Obama supporter, poking through a city-wide yard sale on Stone Mountain’s town square. “This has become a costly war, but not just in terms of money, but emotional costs. This is a philosophical war. And people are war-weary.”
Lawmakers met with Obama this week before the White House conducted a marathon session Friday as it weighs national security and international politics against Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s warnings that failure to bulk up the troop presence could lead to defeat in Afghanistan.
Gen. McChrystal’s strategy, as explained by Monitor writers Ben Arnoldy and Dan Murphy here, aims to eke out victory as defined by using troops to protect civilians from a mounting counterinsurgency and staking out peaceful territories to let a democratic Afghanistan take hold.
Critics say the US is leaning too far toward a “trendy” counterinsurgency tactic that threatens to erode conventional capabilities and pave the way for open-ended conflicts.
Made only more difficult by the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Obama on Friday, the time has come for the president to stop pontificating and take decisive action, says Bill Carpenter, an Air Force veteran, whose son, Army mechanic Matt Carpenter, just received deployment orders for Afghanistan.