The Afghan Mood

Ackerman parses a new Afghan poll:

What’s surprising about the poll is that the Afghans don’t appear to take the jump from “everything sucks and I don’t trust the United States to keep me safe” to “the United States is an illegitimate occupying force that I will not support.” Nearly 60 percent say the Taliban is the biggest threat to Afghanistan, but only eight percent say U.S. forces are. Support for attacks on U.S. troops are transactional, dependent on where there haven’t been airstrikes that kill civilians: it’s 44 percent in areas where the United States has recently launched airstrikes, and 18 percent where it hasn’t.

Another interesting nugget:

64 percent of Afghans say the government should negotiate a settlement with the Taliban in which they’re allowed to hold political offices if they agree to stop fighting. But among those who support negotiations, most by far, seven in 10, say talks should occur only if the Taliban stop fighting first.

Ackerman adds: "There of course would need to be an effort to induce the Taliban to stop fighting and start negotiating, but really, this is how insurgencies usually end: through co-optation rather than outright defeat or victory."