Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Afghan's Overwhelmingly Support US

An independent non-partisan poll conducted by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes showed overwhelming support for US efforts in Afghanistan. 5 out of 6 people polled expressed a positive view of the US military and President Karzai enjoys a 93% approval rating. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the poll was a 90% disapproval rating for both the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. (VOA: Afghan Poll: Big Support for US Military Presence).

What the poll demonstrates is the overwhelming success of US policy in the region. Four years after the US went to war in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and disrupt and destroy al Qaeda's terror cells operating in that region, Afghanistan is now experiencing the fruits of their first successful democratic elections. Afghan women have new-found freedoms including the right to vote and a right to an education. While pockets of Taliban resistance remain, the war of public opinion appears to have been won.

Bin Laden's loss of support in that nation cannot be overlooked, either. Just four years after local warlords helped him escape the trap laid by Operation Anaconda, bin Laden is now a hated figure in the region. The policy of making al Qaeda homeless is succeeding. Assuming he's still alive - and that is not necessarily a valid assumption, given his silence for more than a year - bin Laden has lost a significant refuge that sustained him through three US presidential administrations.

What will be interesting to watch is the impact this has on neighboring Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan was once a staunch supporter of the Taliban, and there is still popular support there for al Qaeda. Of course, Pakistan has yet to experience the wave of freedoms that are sweeping through Afghanistan.

The same holds true for Iran where there is an undercurrent of support for western ideas and western culture among the more educated youth; a youth already chafing to get out from under the thumb of the very restrictive religious regime that has controlled Iran since the Islamic Revolution.

The fruits planted by the US in the war on terror, both in Afghanistan and Iraq will take some time to grow to maturity, however they most certainly are growing. Our policies in that region are proving successful, our enemies are growing increasingly isolated. While I'm sure there are those that will attempt to paint a negative spin on this, as is typical whenever US policy appears successful, the facts remain that there are now two more democratic societies in the Muslim world than there were pre-9/11. 2006 will be most interesting since the next battle grounds in this war on terror are shaping up to be Iran and Syria, both of whom are doing their best to antagonize the rest of the world.



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