The War in Afghanistan: Unpopular Among Afghans, Unpopular Among Allies

Besides provoking a series of anti-US protests, last month’s Herat airstrike brought harsh condemnation from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Not long after, Karzai blamed the British government for the upsurge in Taliban activity in Helmand Province. These were just the latest signs that the war, nearing its seventh year and creating ever more civilian casualties, is wearing thin with Afghanistan’s people and government.

But discontent with the seemingly endless conflict doesn’t end at the Afghan border. There are indications that, at a time when the US is pressing allies to deploy ever increasing numbers of troops to the central Asian nation, the populaces of those allies are also growing disillusioned with the conflict.

Last month, a Taliban ambush killed 10 French soldiers. And while French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged his continued commitment to the war, a poll showed that 55 percent of French voters want to bring the troops home. Unlikely to happen given Sarkozy’s large majority in parliament, but how long will the French government be able to ignore the voters?

Not much longer, if Canada is any indication. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called a snap election in hopes of increasing the Conservative majority. And even though the government has chosen to withhold information about the war’s costs for fear of influencing the election the Canadian media still believes that, as their military’s death count nears 100, their support for the war will hurt the Conservatives in the coming election. The war has been increasingly unpopular among Canadians, with a poll last week showing 61 percent of Canadians feel the cost has been unacceptable.

And today, Der Spiegel has released an article on the expanding violence. It features the provocative headline “Germany Discovers a War in Afghanistan,” and suggests that as Germany’s government is poised to increase its commitment to the conflict the German public is waking up to the realization that this is not merely a “development assistance” mission which their military is involved in, but a full scale war. A war which is unlikely to be any more popular in Germany than it has been for its NATO allies.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.