US Support For Obama's Afghan War Strategy Diminishing

Today's AfPak round-up:

Poll: Support for Obama's war strategy in free fall. According to a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, only 43% of Americans believe the Afghan war is "worth fighting," while 53% believe it is not, and only 45% approve of President Obama's conduct of the war--down from 56% in April. Further complicating matters for Obama, Americans oppose a negotiated settlement with the Taliban by a 14 point margin, 51% to 37%. Support for the war split along party lines--only 36% of Democrats believe the war is worth fighting, compared to 57% of Republicans. [ABC]

Why Afghanistan is the new Vietnam. Obama's approach to the Afghan war is eerily similar to Lyndon Johnson's approach to Vietnam, writes Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kai Bird. Both believed they were fighting wars of necessity.Both relied heavily on counterinsurgency doctrine and weak, unrepresentative local partners. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's "government in a box" strategy in Marjah evokes Gen. William Westmoreland's "strategic hamlet" program in Vietnam. The only positive parallel Bird sees is that both wars have been strongly criticized by junior State Department officials, who could in time persuade their superiors to cut their losses in Afghanistan just as they did in Vietnam. [Politico]

Taliban attacks becoming more sophisticated. This week's attack on an Afghan police base in Kandahar, which killed three American soldiers and six Afghans, was according to one U.S. soldier "coordinated much better than anything we've seen before." The Taliban first sent three suicide bombers to blow up one of the base's walls, then ambushed the U.S. and Afghan forces who rushed to the scene with grenade and machine gun fire. Similar tactics have been used in several recent insurgent attacks, further persuading many Afghans that the Taliban cannot be defeated. [McClatchy]

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