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U.S. General: Taliban’s Military Momentum Stall

Petraeus says military on course to pull forces out of Afghanistan in July

David Petraeus
NATO commander in Afghanistan U.S. Gen. David Petraeus speaks in Berlin, Germany on Nov. 23, 2010. Petraeus makes his first visit to Washington since taking over the Afghanistan war nine months ago, claiming he’s turned back the Taliban and is ready to begin withdrawing American troops. (Photo credit: Michael Sohn / AP)

March 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — The U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Tuesday that much of the Taliban’s battlefield momentum has been halted, putting the U.S. on course to begin pulling out troops in July and shifting security responsibility to the Afghans.

In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. David Petraeus cautioned that security progress is still “fragile and reversible,” with much difficult work ahead as the Taliban launch an expected spring offensive. …

He said he supports President Barack Obama’s plan to begin reducing the number of U.S. troops in July; he said he would prepare options for that and make a recommendation to Obama. …

Petraeus said that the substantial military gains could be jeopardized unless Congress provides adequate funding to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide economic development, governance and other civilian assistance. …

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Topical report

Poll: Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Say Afghan War Isn’t Worth Fighting

Nearly three-quarters of the public thinks a substantial number of U.S. forces should be withdrawn from Afghanistan this summer. But fewer than four in 10 think it will happen.

By Scott Wilson and Jon Cohen
The Washington Post
March 15, 2011

Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. …

 After nearly a decade of conflict, political opposition to the battle breaks sharply along partisan lines, with only 19 percent of Democratic respondents and half of Republicans surveyed saying the war continues to be worth fighting.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say Obama should withdraw a “substantial number” of combat troops from Afghanistan this summer, the deadline he set to begin pulling out some forces. Only 39 percent of respondents, however, say they expect him to withdraw large numbers.

The Post-ABC News poll results come as Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, prepares to testify before Congress on Tuesday about the course of the war. He is expected to face tough questioning about a conflict that is increasingly unpopular among a broad cross section of Americans. …

The number of respondents to the Post-ABC News poll who say the war is not worth fighting has risen from 44 percent in late 2009 to 64 percent in the survey conducted last week. …

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Related reports on this site

On Veterans Day 2009, President Obama visited a section of Arlington National Cemetery reserved for service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Luke Sharrett / The New York Times)

Can U.S. Hold Afghanistan Gains? (March 9, 2011)

Robert Gates Talks Afghanistan Strategy (March 7, 2011)

Afghanistan ‘Tom and Jerry’ War (Jan. 4, 2011)

One American Dies Every 18 Hours in Afghanistan (Jan. 1, 2011)

2010 Review of Afghanistan War (Dec. 16, 2010)

Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010)

Support for Afghan War Plummets (Aug. 4, 2010)

House Rejects Afghanistan Pullout (March 10, 2010)

Public Opinion on Afghan Surge (Dec. 17, 2009)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 15, 2010

Taliban Arrest Angers Karzai

A man believed to be Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in a photograph taken in 1998, given to The New York Times by a former photographer for the Taliban.

One year ago today, I reported that the arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar — second in the Taliban only to one-eyed leader Mullah Mohammed Omain — reportedly infuriated Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was said to have been holding secret peace talks with the Taliban’s No. 2 when he was captured in Pakistan the previous month, in February 2010.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — March 15, 2009

Coleman-Franken Senate Recount Trial Closing Arguments

Two years ago today, on March 15, 2009, I featured a live video feed of the closing arguments in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate recount trial to decide the winner of the race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken.

2 Responses to “Petraeus Testifies Amid Waning Support for Afghan War”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghanistan Update Says:

    […] Petraeus Testifies Amid Waning Support for Afghan War (March 15, 2011) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Obama Hell-Bent on Afghanistan Pull-Out Says:

    […] Obama sees a military mission accomplished, without ever using those words. Yet the political context also has changed significantly. A sovereign Afghanistan has tired of the U.S. presence, the financial toll of the war has become entangled with the U.S. debt debate, and people in the U.S. long for an exit. […]

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