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Quagmire? Nine years on, Americans grow weary of war in Afghanistan

Americans approve of Gen. David Petraeus as the new US commander in Afghanistan. But after nine years and with mounting US casualties, support for the war itself is waning.

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But as Tony Karon at points out, “the mounting difficulties facing that strategy were certainly a primary driver of the internecine backstabbing that was laid bare by the Rolling Stone article that got McChrystal fired.”

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“Violence is on the increase, the Taliban is hardly in retreat, both Pakistan and Afghan President Hamid Karzai continue to hedge their bets, and NATO allies want out,” Karon writes. “The idea that the war can be handed over to Afghan security forces anytime soon appears fanciful. And prospects for turning things around by next summer, the administration's putative target date to begin drawing down, are looking grim.”

Unsettled public opinion on the conflict in Afghanistan – where US combat casualties have been increasing – is reflected in Congress, which must approve war funding.

“The president and congressional critics, long on a collision course over the war in Afghanistan, are hurtling ever faster toward each other since the ouster of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and doves on Capitol Hill are feeling a little tougher right now,” reports Politico.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan predicts that conservatives may “start to peel off” as well.

“Not Washington policy intellectuals but people on the ground in America,” she wrote this week. “There are many reasons for this. Their sons and nephews have come back from repeat tours full of doubts as to the possibility of victory, ‘whatever that is,’ as we all now say.”

Noonan continued: “The other day Sen. Lindsey Graham, in ostensibly supportive remarks, said that Gen. David Petraeus … ‘is our only hope.’ If he can't pull it out, ‘nobody can.’ That's not all that optimistic a statement.”

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