The U.S. war in Afghanistan has reached yet another milestone. It is now not only America’s longest war in history, but it is the most unpopular one as well. A poll conducted by CNN/ORC International puts support of the war at 17 percent, ten full percentage points below the lowest numbers recorded for the Vietnam War under President Johnson. However unlike Vietnam or even the Iraq war, the conflict in Afghanistan was remarkably popular when it began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks as America sought to rout the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. Even during the 2008 election, when public opinion of Iraq was at its lowest (26 percent supported it), both candidates, McCain and Obama, promised a troop surge in Afghanistan.
With the U.S. scheduled to leave the country permanently in December 2014, the Pentagon is, according to The Guardian, reiterating “a plea for the Afghan government to entrench an enduring military presence.” The military’s role in Afghanistan post-2014 would be mostly in the “advisory” focusing on training the Afghan security forces, but it would also serve as a place from which the U.S. could launch operations against terrorist activities in the region, specifically the tribal areas on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to The Washington Post, Afghan officials rejected a U.S. intelligence estimate that if the military were to leave the country all of the “gains” made in the past twelve years would evaporate by 2017. The deadline for President Hamid Karzai to sign the extension pact is today, December 31, although “the White House has said it is prepared to let the deadline slip until early January.” While Afghan officials are dithering on the U.S. extension deal, according to The Independent, the general feeling amongst Afghan civilians is a sense of “foreboding” at the departure of the U.S. military.