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If Only the American People Were Worthy of Their Wars

Andrew Sullivan flags this Robert Kaplan piece from last week that about Afghanistan. Most of it is a recitation of can-do optimism about the war — containing a few debatable propositions — and a summary of where things stand, presumably to catch the public up on a war that’s been overshadowed by Iraq. But then comes Kaplan’s kicker:

The U. S. military has already been in Afghanistan half as many years as it was in Vietnam, and with troops pulling out of Iraq and talk of a multi-year hard slog ahead here, Afghanistan is on track to becoming America’s longest war. To that end, significant numbers of American officers and civilian contractors will be embedded in Afghan government ministries for years to come, helping to run things. But does the home front have the stomach for it? Our reaction to the fighting about to unfold this summer will speak volumes.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but if the “home front” doesn’t have the “stomach” for the Afghanistan war, it will… end the war through democratic processes. Perhaps that’s problematic from the vantage of ending a winnable war too soon. But far more problematic is the idea that there’s something wrong with a democracy taking a collective decision that a war is no longer worth fighting. Despite these kinds of stab-in-the-back anxieties, the available public-opinion data suggests that the populace is pretty reasonable when it comes to deciding if a war is in its interests or not.

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