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Who are the radicals

October 5, 2009 - Jim Anderson
In his latest column, Bill O’Reilly asks whether President Obama is listening to “the radical left” on the issue of Afghanistan. (“Obama and the far left,” Daily News, Oct. 5)

“At first, Obama labeled Afghanistan a ‘war of necessity,’” O’Reilly writes. “Now, he can’t decide whether to honor his commanding general’s request for more troops there. Is Obama listening to the radical left on the issue?”

It’s possible, yes, that Obama is listening to the left. It’s also possible that he’s listening to the majority of Americans — and even a majority of Republicans.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll (reported on Sept. 15), just 26 percent of Americans favored increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. (Among Republicans, support for sending more forces was 39 percent.)

In a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted Sept. 19-23, 29 percent of respondents favored an increase in troop levels. (Among Republicans, 42 percent favored an increase, while 29 percent said keep it the same and 17 percent favored a decrease.)

In short, skepticism about sending more troops to Afghanistan is hardly exclusive to the “radical left.” The idea appears to lack majority support even from Republicans.

For the president, and all Americans, a great agony of Afghanistan is the lack of clear, measurable choices.

No military strategy should be based on poll numbers, but neither are we a democracy governed by generals.

O’Reilly, for his part, might choose to label one course of action or another as “radical.”

Radicalism, however, may be in the eye of the beholder.

According to the CBS News/New York Times poll, two-thirds of Americans do not think the war in Iraq was worth the loss of life and the other costs of the invasion.

O’Reilly, on at least one occasion prior to “shock and awe,” predicted that the U.S. military action in Iraq would last no more than a week.

Six and a half years later, it seems reasonable to ask: Who are the radicals, really?

10-7 addendum: The partisan divide on the question of whether to send more troops is growing, according to the Associated Press.

An AP-GfK pool conducted Oct. 1-5 asked: Would you favor or oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan? The results were: strongly favor, 26 percent; somewhat favor, 20 percent; somewhat oppose, 15 percent; strongly oppose, 34 percent.

Public support for the war now stands at 40 percent, down from 44 percent in July, according to the new poll. A total of 69 percent of self-described Republicans in the poll favor sending more troops, while 57 percent of self-described Democrats oppose it, the AP said.


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