Gates: Public Opinion Can’t Stop Afghan War

As Clinton Chides Americans to Support Occupation, Gates Insists Their Opinions Don't Count Anyhow

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played the usual appeal to fear card in trying to bolster public support for the Afghan War, even as polls show the American public overwhelmingly opposed to continuing the occupation, already in its tenth year. Her comments urged Americans to see the war as “protecting their families.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had a somewhat more frank piece of advice for Americans – the government really doesn’t care what you think and isn’t going to end the war no matter how unpopular it gets.

Gates insisted that the government was more interested in the “long-term” implications of the war than its massive unpopularity. He didn’t indicate how long “long-term” was, but it clearly must have been well more than the 9+ years the US has already been occupying Afghanistan.

In that regard, it seems Gates is continuing the Bush Administration’s rhetoric, that massive unpopularity really doesn’t matter when the ruling class has decided that a bad war is going to continue, and that critics of administration policy must inevitably be drown out by the enormous echo chamber of officials who see an endless, failing war as politically expedient.

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.