Foreign Policy Blogs

What Do Americans Think About Obama's Afghanistan Surge?

Many polls have now been released showing Americans’ feelings toward our presence in Afghanistan and President Obama’s new surge plan. As I mentioned the day of the President’s West Point speech, Obama’s Afghanistan policy approval rating had dropped all the way to 35%, an alarmingly low number. I blamed some of this on the long decision process, where the public only heard negative things about the situation in the country. In other words, the polls were showing that Obama’s leadership on the issue was lacking, at least to the American population. While it looks like the American people have found a stronger ground to support the war effort and the President’s leadership on the issue after the West Point policy rollout. The same Quinnipiac that rated Obama’s approval at 35% has moved over 10% upward with 45% approving and 45% disapproving of his Afghanistan War handling. Though the numbers are still not awe inspiring for the President, they are a hopeful sign.

What do the American people think about new Afghanistan plan? Here’s Gallup:


The numbers are overall positive. It is important to note that this poll question brings up the 18 month draw down date. If this was not part of the question I believe the Democrat and Independent numbers for approval would decrease, but the Republican numbers might rise. The key number for me is the near 45-45 split by independents. This will be the number to watch.

The New York Times/CBS poll that came out today has a similar question, but just mentions the increase of 30,000 troops and no time line:

Do you approve or disapprove of sending additional troops to Afghanistan?

Approve 51%, Disapprove 43%

The same poll has a couple more interesting questions with newsworthy (blogworthy?) results:

Do you think it is a good idea for Barack Obama to set a date to begin withdrawing troops?

Good Idea 41%,  Not a Good Idea 55%

This number surprised me as a solid majority of Americans do not seem to think that setting a withdrawal date is a good idea. This may partly explain the lightening quick reassurances given by Gates, Clinton, etc. in the days following the West Point speech that there was no hard draw down date set.

Connected to my earlier point in a lack of presidential leadership by Obama in terms of promoting his Afghan policy, the poll posed this question:

Do you think Barack Obama has clearly explained his plan for Afghanistan?

Has Clearly Explained  42%,   Has Not  47%

That’s not a great number for the President. Mind you that these results are from today so they include all of the public relations work by Obama’s whole national security team. Of course, the situation and policy are complicated, but this should be taken as a strong sign to the administration that they are just in the beginning phases of bringing the American public along on these key political and strategic issue. These polls will be worth keeping an eye on.

Check Outs

Foreign Policy Association has many great blogs that from time to time have touched on Afghanistan.

FPA’s Pakistan blog is one of best I’ve read on any subject and is obviously a must read for anyone following Afghanistan-related issues and happenings.

Our India blog is also very informative and provocative; check out this piece on India-US relations in regard to America’s mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Lastly, I recently came across FPA’s Law and Security Strategy, which tackles a multitude of interesting subjects.