Monday, January 11, 2010

Afghanistan: A Quagmire Of Confidence, Progress And Optimism.

This latest poll is the now the 14th survey of which I am aware that wholly defies the received wisdom (which is to say the fashionable delusions and popular frenzies) abroad in the rich countries of the world about Afghanistan, and about "what Afghans think." I am aware of no poll - not one - that supports the self-obsessed and fraudulent "anti-war" opinion in Canada on these subjects, or that does not expose bourgeois "left-wing" opinion to be objectively far-right, reactionary, and in opposition to the hopes and aspirations of the Afghan people.

'Troops Out Now!'

Sixty-one per cent of the Afghan respondents support the U.S./NATO "surge" of 37,000 troops. Only 25 per cent agree with the American (and Canadian) plan to start withdrawing troops in 18 months, and while 22 per cent say foreign troops should start to pull out sooner, 21 per cent say foreign troops should in fact stay longer, and 29 per cent (the most sensible cohort, in my view) say troop withdrawals should depend on the security situation at the time. More than 70 per cent of Afghans rate the performance of American and other NATO/ISAF troops as excellent, good or fair.

'Why Do They Hate Us?'

They don't, so all those drippy Californian society ladies who hold such sway over "progressive opinion" in Canada should avail themselves of their hankies and smelling salts and shut their gobs. Afghans rate the role the United States is playing in Afghanistan much higher (45%) than the approval they give anyone else the pollsters asked about: UK (28%), Germany (32%), Russia (22%), India (36%), Iran (27%), and Pakistan (9%). As a country, however, Afghans are some crazy about India - 71 per cent favourable! - so the Yanks need to work much harder. A friendly suggestion: The only time Michael Moore gets to appear on television is if he's playing the role of the fat auntie in a Bollywood-type musical.

Only four per cent of Afghans see the United States as the greatest threat facing their country and a mere five per cent blame the U.S. for the violence that wracks Afghanistan, while 73 per cent blame the Taliban, Al Qaida, foreign jihadis and warlords. A whopping, utterly staggering two per cent of the Afghan people say "foreign influence" is the biggest problem facing their country.

'Negotiate With The Taliban!'

Seventy-six per cent of Afghans say their government should negotiate with the Taliban only if the Taliban first stops fighting (good luck with that, Jack).

'Hamid Karzai is a U.S. Puppet!'

Funny, but 90 per cent of Afghans rate Karzai's performance as excellent, good or fair - approval ratings any "western" politician would die for - and only six per cent would prefer the Taliban.

'The Afghan National Police are corrupt and feared by the people!'

Some 88 per cent of Afghans rate their police as excellent, good or fair.

NYT, January 9: "Afghans Losing Hope After 8 Years Of War."

In the real world, Afghans haven't been feeling this plucky in five years:


Blogger Francis Sedgemore said...

Having looked this morning at some of the poll data, I'm struck by the spread of opinion in Afghanistan (not all of the figures are good news). This illustrates the maturity of Afghan civil society, and further gives the lie to the Manichean view held by many on the western left, "bourgeois" or otherwise.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Bernard said...

Interesting that no one in the media in Canada has picked up the poll and reported on the details.

I also find it interesting that no Canadian media outlet paid to have questions asked about the opinion of Canada.

I take most polling results with a grain of salt, but it is clear the Taliban are wildly unpopular.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Quagmires are not all they're quacked up to be, pace the Globeites.


4:41 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You can be sure that this poll will either be ignored like all the others, or downplayed, or its methodology will be questioned. But the problem the skeptics cannot resolve is that all the empirical evidence always tracks this way, no matter who's conducting the polls, and there has never been any empirical evidence that tracks in favour of the skeptics.

5:30 PM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 01/12/2010 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

While there's no doubt that a majority of Afghans prefer the Govt over the Taliban, the numbers in this poll are so low that they seem implausible. Insurgencies just don't work if only 6% of a country supports the insurgents. And if you were an afghan and you *did* support the Taliban, would you tell a poll representative the truth (who for all you know could pass that info straight on to the NDS)? I think a large boulder of salt is required when looking at these numbers.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

I should add, that while I'm skeptical of the absolute numbers, the *trend* (change in numbers over time) is more reliable, in this case, it's an encouraging poll.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

This poll will be especially encouraging to people who don't realize that it is actually nothing out of the ordinary. This is the 14th body of Afghan polling/opinion evidence I'm aware of that reflects the same general view.

"Insurgencies just don't work if only 6% of a country supports the insurgents."

That may be why the Taliban insurgency isn't working.

Also, the way we use the term "insurgency" may be why so many people in the "west" scratch their heads about Afghanistan and about "what Afghans think."

David Kilcullen is the most helpful authority on the subject of insurgency and counterinsurgency in the context of Afghanistan, which is a case of in which "the counterinsurgent represents revolutionary change, while the insurgent fights to preserve the status quo."

Mao called "insurgents" of this kind counter-revolutionary bandits, a far more accurate characterization in the case of the Taliban, and the one I prefer.

10:44 PM  

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