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Americans Backed the Withdraw, But Support Collapses and Intelligence Fails Again

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Floyd Ciruli

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As I reported in May (Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Has Support, May 27), polls showed Americans lost interest and support for the war in Afghanistan several years ago. Nor was there support for democracy-building. A new Chicago Council Survey (July 7-26) in late July reported that 70 percent of Americans continued to support the withdrawal, including 54 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats. But, those numbers collapsed by 20 points in the latest Morning Consult poll (August 13-16) to 49 percent, with 69 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans.

President Biden will no doubt be held to blame for the chaotic, sudden final retreat from Kabul and the many domestic and foreign advocates for a permanent military presence in Afghanistan will be critical. But, the administration’s biggest failure was in intelligence of the on-the-ground conditions. Biden should not be surprised by the U.S. intelligence failure. President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry were mostly blindsided by the speed and stealth of the Russian move into the Crimea in early 2014 and Obama was calling ISIS a “JV” team in early 2014, and by September, he was adding marines and airstrikes to stop the ISIS advance. This is another president ill-served by his intelligence and national security establishment.

Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace in Kabul after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021 | Associated Press