Afghanistan Survey Suggests More Americans Resigned to "Endless War"

According to the Clarus Research Group, 68 percent of Americans believe we will neither win nor lose in Afghanistan. Here's why that's bad.

The results of a recent poll on Afghanistan are troubling, to say the least. It seems as though a majority of Americans are convinced there can be no definitive end to the war in Afghanistan -- that is, neither a “win” nor a “loss.” From CQ Politics:

Majorities of American adults think the war in Afghanistan cannot be won and that its most likely conclusion would be no conclusion at all, according to a poll by Clarus Research Group conducted Oct. 1-4.

Sixty-eight percent of the respondents said the United States will not win or lose the war which will go on without resolution, Clarus said.

At its face, this statistic is unclear: Are Americans more exasperated about Afghanistan than ever before? Are we more complacent? What does it mean that these results coincided closely with yesterday’s announcement from the White House that there are no plans whatsoever to withdraw from Afghanistan?

It might be helpful to pay very close attention to the wording of the findings. The initial logical somersault (Afghanistan’s “most likely conclusion would be no conclusion at all”) isn’t so confusing when given the context of recent foreign policy precedents. War without conclusion, after all, is no longer a contradiction in terms. It’s an endgame. In fact, open-endedness and ambiguity seem to be the two main propellants of so-called “modern” war.

This is why the initial statistic about ordinary Americans -- not politicians, not generals; ordinary people -- is so chilling. The numbers don’t just mean that we’re confused about Afghanistan (though many of us are); they mean we’ve resigned ourselves to a dangerous re-definition of warfare as a concept -- a redefinition that, unfortunately, the current administration seems reluctant to disassemble.

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