RCP's Tom Bevan highlights a new Quinnipiac poll. Obama has benefited from his surge decision; it's interesting that support for the mission in Afghanistan remains 12 points higher than support for Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan:
Public support for the war in Afghanistan is up nine percentage points in the last three weeks, as American voters say 57 - 35 percent that fighting the war is the right thing to do. Approval of President Barack Obama's handling of the war is up seven points in the same period, from a 38 - 49 percent negative November 18 to a 45 - 45 percent split, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
American voters approve 58 - 37 percent of President Obama's decision to send 30,000 more combat troops to the war-torn nation, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-per-ack) University poll finds. And voters approve 60 - 32 percent of the President's plan to begin withdrawing combat troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. But by a 45 - 40 percent margin, Americans do not believe he will be able to keep that promise.
It should be noted that although Quinnipiac finds support for the timeline to begin withdrawing troops in July 2011, a CNN poll found that 59 percent of voters opposed publicly announcing that timeline.
In this week's editorial, Frederick W. Kagan and William Kristol urge everyone to "Support the President" on the war:
President Obama has ordered sufficient reinforcements to Afghanistan to execute a war strategy that can succeed. We applaud this decision. And we urge everyone to rally round the effort to defeat our enemies and accomplish objectives vital to America's national security.
Obama's decision, and the speech in which it was announced, were not flawless. The president should have met his commander's full request for forces. He should not have announced a deadline for the start of the withdrawal of U.S. forces. He should have committed to a specific and significant increase in the size of the Afghan National Security Forces. He should also have explained more clearly the relationship between defeating the Taliban and defeating al Qaeda, the significance of such a victory, and the reasons his Afghan strategy can succeed. The secretaries of defense and state, as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made those arguments far more compellingly in subsequent congressional testimony than the president did at West Point.
We shouldn't miss the forest for the trees, however. When all the rhetorical and other problems are stripped away, the fact remains that Obama has, in his first year in office, committed to doubling our forces in Afghanistan and embraced our mission there. Indeed, the plan the president announced on Tuesday features a commendably rapid deployment of reinforcements to the theater, with most of the surge forces arriving over the course of this winter, allowing them to be in position before the enemy's traditional fighting season begins.
The bottom line: Our very capable field commander, General Stanley McChrystal, will have 100,000 American troops by the middle of next year to take the fight to the enemy and regain the initiative in the war. General McChrystal has expressed confidence in his ability to execute his strategy with these resources. He and his superior in the chain of command, General David Petraeus, have earned the right to the nation's confidence in their judgment.