Western public turns against Afghan mission
FRANCE: The governments of countries that sent troops to Afghanistan
are now facing increasingly hostile public opposition to the war as more
soldiers die in a distant land and no end appears in sight.
“Public opinion no longer accepts a scenario in which deaths are
futile and the timetable uncertain,” said Dominique Moisi of the French
Institute of International Relations.
Domestic public pressure was one of the factors that led Britain,
France and Germany to call for an international conference on
Afghanistan later this year to press Afghans to take more responsibility
for their own country, he said.
The summit will make clear to countries involved in Afghanistan “what
job they have to do and what our common aim is,” German Chancellor
Angela Merkel said on Sunday.
An air strike ordered by a German commander in Afghanistan last week
that left scores dead has moved what was already an unpopular mission up
the political agenda ahead of German general elections this month.
German popular opposition to the mission is echoed in many of the 42
states contributing to the 100,000-strong international force in
Afghanistan, 65,000 of whom form the NATO-led International Security
In the United States, which provides around two-thirds of the foreign
troops, a CNN poll last week showed 57 percent now oppose the war in
Afghanistan and 40 percent believe it cannot be won.
Obama has put Afghanistan at the heart of his foreign policy, saying
like many other leaders of troop-contributing countries that the Taliban
must be beaten in order to curb the threat of terrorism worldwide.
For months he has been calling for new thinking in Afghanistan to
counter Taliban attacks, now happening at the highest rate since the
2001 US-led invasion ousted the Islamist regime.
But the US public, dismayed by the death of 184 American soldiers so
far this year, has not swung behind the president’s plans.
The governments of Canada and Australia are also struggling to
explain to their electorates why their soldiers are dying in a country
many thousands of miles away, Moisi said. PARIS, Wednesday, AFP