WAR ISN'T OVER IF WE WANT IT
Andrew Sullivan writes:
A Massacre In Afghanistan: Is This The End?
There is much we do not know about what happened today in Panjwai when one US soldier walked out of his base and went on to kill at least sixteen civilians, including several children. But if the least of what happened is what we now hear, after the Koran burnings, I cannot see a future for US forces in that country. The pressure to quit before 2014 will grow....
Really? I don't believe that. I don't see why we won't just go on the way we have for years, with more Americans wanting to get out of Afghanistan than to stay, but with both political parties determined to follow the current course of actions. Republicans can't attack Obama as a terrorist-appeaser who bows to dirty filthy Mooslimes and simultaneously attack him from the right on keeping the troops in -- or, rather, they could be brazen enough to take both positions simultaneously, but they're so locked into the habit of attacking Democrats as peaceniks and hippies that they can't shift gears. And Democrats are equally locked into the habit of cowering in fear of the GOP's ability to question their patriotism. Given that habit, the Obama administration's willingness to end combat operations in the two Bush-era wars by 2014 seems like a high-water mark of Democratic bravery (which, of course, isn't saying much).
What's maddening is that the president could say tomorrow, "Look, this is crazy. This is obviously a destructive exercise in futility, and it's high time we realized that and got the hell out. So that's what we're doing, as quickly as possible" -- and the American public would be behind him, no matter how loud Republicans yelled "APPEASER!" Look at the polls:
Sixty percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been not worth fighting and just 30 percent believe the Afghan public supports the U.S. mission there — marking the sour state of attitudes on the war even before the shooting rampage allegedly by a U.S. soldier this weekend.
Indeed a majority in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 54 percent, say the United States should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan without completing its current effort to train Afghan forces to become self-sufficient.
But you go to those poll numbers (PDF) and you see that this isn't really news -- a plurality of the country, and then a majority, has wanted to get out of Afghanistan in nearly every ABC/WaPo poll in the past two and a half years:
But the pols are too locked into their scripts to give the public what it wants.
What might help now is a revival of the anti-war movement -- yup, old fashioned marches on Washington and the like. It also might help if the Libertarian candidate for president this year gets enough of a positive response on this issue to put a scare into Obama in what ought to be a blue state. But a game-changer will be needed, or we're just going to go on as usual, even though there's no reason that has to happen.
(Poll via Memeorandum.)