Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Politico reports:
Voters are divided on President Donald Trump’s plans to send more American troops to Afghanistan, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Forty-five percent of voters support increasing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, the poll shows — only slightly greater than the 41 percent who oppose the plan. The other 14 percent have no opinion.
There's a partisan split:
Backing for a troop increase is greater among Republicans than Democrats or independents. Sixty-eight percent of self-identified GOP voters support increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan, but only 30 percent of Democratic voters and 35 percent of independents agree.
But weren't we told that Donald Trump won the presidency because Republican voters have turned antiwar? That's how J.D. Vance, author of the bestseller Hillbilly Elegy, explained Trump's success in the Republican primaries in an April 2016 New York Times op-ed titled "Why Trump’s Antiwar Message Resonates with White America":
Sixty years ago, Americans looked to Europe and Asia and saw continents liberated and despots defeated. With the Islamic State on the rampage, Americans today look to a Middle East that is humiliatingly worse off than the way we found it.

The burden of this humiliation fell hardest on Republican strongholds. Demographically, the military draws heavily from the South, rural areas and the working and middle class. And while no racial group has a monopoly on military service, white enlistees make up a disproportionate share of those wounded and killed in action. This is the very same demographic that forms the core of the contemporary Republican base.... the people who made [George W.] Bush president are the same people who sent their children to fight in his wars.

... Donald J. Trump ... torments a G.O.P. elite that cannot admit its own failures.

... Anger about the wars isn’t the only reason voters support Mr. Trump. But his willingness to say what other G.O.P. candidates won’t reflects what people like most about him: his complete break with the party elite. Because the last time Republican voters put a member of that elite in the White House, he sent their children on a bloody misadventure. Until others recognize that failure, expect many to support the one major candidate who does.
Last month, Justin Raimondo of quoted a study by Francis Shen of the University of Minnesota and Douglas Kriner of Boston University that looked at November's election results and came to essentially the same conclusion:
With so much post-election analysis, it is surprising that no one has pointed to the possibility that inequalities in wartime sacrifice might have tipped the election. Put simply: perhaps the small slice of America that is fighting and dying for the nation’s security is tired of its political leaders ignoring this disproportionate burden....

The data analysis presented in this working paper finds that in the 2016 election Trump spoke to this part of America. Even controlling in a statistical model for many other alternative explanations, we find that there is a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump....

In [Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania], our analysis predicts that Trump would have lost between 1.4% and 1.6% of the vote if the state had suffered a lower casualty rate.... such margins would have easily flipped all three states into the Democratic column....

The significant inroads that Trump made among constituencies exhausted by fifteen years of war – coupled with his razor thin electoral margin (which approached negative three million votes in the national popular tally) – should make Trump even more cautious in pursuing ground wars.
Whoops! Guess not. It appears that his voters are totally cool with a newly expanded war in Afghanistan.

There's an explanation for this. In his op-ed, Vance wrote:
... war is about more than service and sacrifice — it’s about winning.

... to those humiliated by defeat, [Trump] promises we’ll win again.
The Politico/Morning Consult poll tells us this:
... Republicans are more bullish on how the war is going. Thirty-eight percent of Republicans say the United States is winning the war in Afghanistan, compared with 19 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of independents.
(That's a plurality of Republicans -- only 31% think we're losing. The other 31% have no opinion. Among Democrats and independents, far more respondents see a loss rather than a win in Afghanistan.)

The Republicans who back the troop increase and think we're winning the war probably can't explain why our great success requires more troops. But Vance gets at the truth here: Despite the use of the word "Antiwar" in his headline, the people he's discussing aren't skeptical of war -- they're just angry about losing. They're fine with extending the war as long as they think we're winning (or will win now that the Conquering Hero Trump is in charge).

Republican voters were never antiwar. They'll like indefinite war in Afghanistan for as long as Trump can persuade them that we're the victors.

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