In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of Americans once again believes the war in Afghanistan is not worth the enormous costs. While 69% of Republicans stand solidly behind the war effort, 56% of Independents and 66% of Democrats disagree.
However, 56% of Americans give President Obama a positive rating for his handling of the war, while only 36% disapprove. This seeming contradiction may have its roots in partisan loyalty, a sense of resignation regarding how best to conclude the convoluted war effort, and a strong neoconservative base of support.
Even so, Obama’s 50,000 additional troops, hundreds of new Drone attacks, and tens of billions more in additional funding do not appear to be worth the cost, in both blood and treasure, in the eyes of many Americans.
Entrenched corruption in the Afghan government, rising American casualties, a spike in civilian deaths, and more deficit spending are viewed as potential catalysts for flagging support.
Come November, it will be interesting to see if the Afghanistan war plays a critical role at the polls, especially considering the substantial increase in independent voters. This year may not yield any meaningful changes to the current policy, however, as both parties appear bent on pursuing the status quo.
Perhaps in 2012, though, voters will be presented with an alternative model in the form of a viable, third party candidate or an intra-party renegade willing to take on the political establishment. If the United States is still bogged down after over 11 years of war, the public may be in the mood to take a chance on a whole new approach.