Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Poll: More Americans Now Against Afghanistan War

Well, THIS NEWS is sooner than I expected.  I didn’t expect to see this much support for ending the Afghanistan war until next year.  UPDATE: I have changed the title because I read the poll too quickly.  The poll says that 42% of the people now think  going INTO Afghanistan was a mistake.  This surprises me even more.  The poll doesn’t ask how we get out or what to do, now. It’s not a perfect poll.

But I think this rules out the Petraeus model of counterinsurgency.  That model expects us to be in Afghanistan for at least 8 more years, increase  troop levels to 600-700,000.  But that is politically and economically IMPOSSIBLE.  If you try to get those kind of troop levels without a draft, you are pulling troops out from the DMZ between North and South Korea and other other geopolitically sensitive places.  What if we had another Katrina-style disaster without, once again, enough National Guard troops available?  The other way to get those kind of troop levels would be with a draft. Good luck getting that through Congress.  And if 42% of the public are now calling the decision to go to Afghanistant “a mistake” (much higher than any time previously), then there is no way that the public would tolerate a continued high-volume presence for another FOUR years, never mind  EIGHT.

Whatever the plan is for Afghanistan, it must be something that is politically and economically possible and doesn’t make the nation more vulnerable in the process.  That’s going to demand a different, peacemaking approach.  I don’t know if the president is talking to the right kinds of people to shape such an approach, but I hope so.

I hope the president is listening because I still fear that Afghanistan could be for Obama what Vietnam was for LBJ: derailing a progressive domestic agenda.

March 17, 2009 - Posted by | Afghanistan


  1. Oh dear Lord – another poll telling us what we are supposedly against. I maintain that these things are questionable. The down side is that a lot of Americans see these polls and accept them at fact without checking the information themselves.

    Comment by Paul | March 18, 2009

  2. Paul,
    Polling is neutral. It doesn’t tell anyone what to believe. When done right, it does show what people seem to believe at any given moment. That can be very useful.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 18, 2009

  3. Michael polling is purported to be neutral and may be in some, but not all, cases. And what constitutes “when done right”? Whose criteria do we use? And polls have assuredly influenced people who do not think for themselves. We both know that questions can be worded to influence the answers.

    Comment by Paul | March 18, 2009

  4. Yes, Paul, we both know that questions can be worded to influence the answers. So, polling that is done right asks in more than one way. And it gives more than yes/no answers. And it samples widely and uses regression models to keep the margin of error small. It crosschecks on numerous different regions, ethnicities, etc.

    Good polling works to correct for biases–just as scientists in labs use control groups in experiments. The science of polling has gotten better over the years, but one must still question the polling methodology, etc.

    But they tell us more than guessing, Paul.

    I detect a strong anti-science streak in you that trusts “instinct” and guesswork more than scientific data. That’s how Bush operated and look where that got us.

    I don’t worship science, but I think the answer is to be found in questioning things, but not in rejecting polling altogether.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 18, 2009

  5. Since you have been quoting polls showing the emerging progressive majority, I thought you might like this poll highlighted by Andrew Sullivan. Soc. Sec. can barely get consensus support. I don’t want to necessarily go private or even have that argument, but just see that the mood and philosophy of the country is always in a murky non-ideological center responding pragmatically to reality.


    Comment by stan | March 18, 2009

  6. How can the results of a poll which asks Americans, at a particular moment, whether they think entering Afghanistan was a mistake or not, influence or tell Americans what to think? I wonder if critics of this poll just don’t like its results.

    Comment by steph | March 19, 2009

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