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Majority of Americans reject new US-Afghan security pact: poll

A large majority of Americans disapprove of a new strategic partnership with Afghanistan that will keep US troops on Afghan soil beyond 2014, according to a Monitor/TIPP poll.

By Staff Writer / May 8, 2012

US soldiers from 5-20 infantry Regiment attached to 82nd Airborne enter a barn while on patrol in Zharay district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, April 26.

Baz Ratner/Reuters

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A large majority of Americans do not favor the new strategic partnership with Afghanistan signed during a surprise visit to Kabul last week by President Obama.

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Managing Editor, Monitor Frontier Markets

Ben Arnoldy is managing editor for Monitor Frontier Markets. He has served as the Monitor's bureau chief in India and Northern California. 

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By a margin of 63 percent disapproval to 33 percent approval, respondents rejected a description of the deal that will include a US troop presence and billions of dollars in monetary support for Afghan forces in the decade after 2014, according to a Monitor/TIPP poll conducted April 27 to May 4.

Unusually for a key issue facing Americans in an election year, the lack of support was bipartisan, showing only small differences across the ideological spectrum. However, with few national politicians dissenting on the broad outlines of the Afghanistan policy, the popular unhappiness has few immediately discernable political consequences.

Some of the polling was done before Mr. Obama had a chance to outline his case for the deal in a national televised address on May 1, the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

In that address, Obama presented the partnership as enabling a withdrawal of most US forces by 2014 while still safeguarding Afghanistan in the long-term from a return of Al Qaeda.

“The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: As you stand up, you will not stand alone,” said Obama. “Within this framework, we will work with the Afghans to determine what support they need to accomplish two narrow security missions beyond 2014: counterterrorism and continued training.”

Under the 10-year agreement, US forces would have access to Afghan bases beyond 2014 for training Afghans and hunting Al Qaeda. The US commits to ask Congress annually to help pay for Afghanistan’s security forces, whose cost outstrips the country’s budget.

The agreement does not spell out US troop numbers or dollar figures. However, estimates for the yearly cost of sustaining the Afghan forces envisioned after 2014 are upwards of $4 billion. US and Afghan officials have suggested the US will pay several billion dollars a year annually, with the rest coming from the Afghans and from NATO partners.

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