Last week, new polls showed that a majority of Americans now think that the "good war" (relatively speaking) in Afghanistan is not worth American blood and treasure. Here's how The Washington Times editorialized:
America must keep up the fight in Afghanistan despite the polls. Fifty-one percent of Americans now think the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week. That is a dramatic 10-point move since March, when the number of war skeptics was at 41 percent. It's the first time since the question was asked in 2007 that the "not worth it" number was higher than 50 percent. Among Democrats, the antiwar number is 70 percent.
The Afghan war is following a pattern established more than 50 years ago. Since the end of World War II, every long-duration limited conflict has witnessed a slow erosion of public support on the question of whether the war was worth fighting. This makes sense intuitively; the longer a war continues, the more it costs and the less the original reasons for fighting it seem to matter. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor said the Korean War "illustrated the difficulty of convincing the American people and keeping them convinced for the long pull of the necessity and justification of exposing the lives of a small segment of our manhood for a stake far from home with little visible relation to the national security." The same could be said of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Whole thing here. The short history lesson above makes me feel better about the average person in the U.S.
But here's the very basic thing with the war in Afghanistan, which in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks had virtually unquestioned support: When's the last time you heard a U.S. president explain what the goals of our being there are? There was the hunt for Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorists...and that's about it. Are we going to bring democracy to Afghanistan? Pakistan? The whole region? Support may be slipping because support always slips for long-term military intervention (typically with good reason). Or it might be slipping because it has been forever since anyone, especially a certain someone who is ramping up U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, has bothered making a clear and coherent case, much less a convincing one, of what we're doing there.