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Record-low support for Afghanistan war shows Obama's vulnerability

Opposition to the war in Afghanistan has Obama walking on eggshells with his Democratic base.

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Obama’s not-bad overall ratings for handling of the Afghanistan war may reflect his pledge to start withdrawing US forces next summer, the ABC News analysis suggests. Fifty-four percent of Americans support that time frame, up 15 points from when it was first announced a year ago, according to ABC News.

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But among his own Democratic base, Obama is walking on egg shells. US military leaders warn that the start of the withdrawal in July 2011 is “conditions based,” and they have placed more emphasis on their goal of turning over security responsibility to the Afghans in 2014 rather than the 2011 deadline. If it begins to look like not much is going to change next July, that could spark a primary challenge to Obama from his left. So far, the likeliest possibilities – former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean and outgoing Sen. Russ Feingold (D) of Wisconsin – say they’re not running. But one or both could change their minds, and other antiwar candidates could emerge.

The most aggressive advocates from the antiwar left staged rallies around the country Thursday, including one in Washington. Members of the groups CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace chained themselves to the White House fence, leading to dozens of arrests. One of those arrested was Daniel Ellsberg, the antiwar activist best-known for leaking the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Before the rally, Mr. Ellsberg held a press conference and expressed support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and for the US Army private suspected of giving Wikileaks classified documents that were then publicly released.

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