CHARLES A. MILLER worked for a number of years in the business world in companies such as Coors Brewing Company and Barclays Wealth Management. In 2008 he joined the Political Science Department at Duke University as a Ph.D. student. Mr. Miller holds a B.A. in modern languages from the University of Cambridge and an M.A. in international relations from the University of Chicago.
ENDGAME FOR THE WEST IN AFGHANISTAN? EXPLAINING THE DECLINE IN SUPPORT FOR THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN IN THE UNITED STATES, GREAT BRITAIN, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, FRANCE AND GERMANYby Charles Miller
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Domestic support for the war is often mentioned as one of the key battlegrounds of the Afghan conflict. A variety of explanations have been put forward in the media and in the political realm to explain why this war, which once commanded overwhelming popular support in almost all participating countries, is now opposed by a majority, even in the United States itself. Casualties, lack of equitable multilateral burden sharing, confused and shifting rationales on the part of the political leadership for the war and a “contagion” effect from the unpopularity of the Iraq war have all been cited at one time or another.
This monograph contends that while most of these factors have played a role to some extent, the main reason why the Afghan war has lost support among the public of the main participating countries is the combination of mounting casualties along with the increasing perception that the effort on the ground is failing. This conclusion is drawn from in-depth case studies of the United States and five of its key allies— the United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, Canada, and Australia. These countries include the top three troop contributing nations to the Allied effort in Afghanistan (the United States, the UK, and Germany), and the three who have suffered the heaviest casualties (the United States, the UK, and Canada). Moreover, these nations vary greatly in terms of their pre-September 11, 2001 (9/11) relations with the United States, historical tradition of, and public tolerance towards the use of force overseas, level of commitment to the Afghan war, and rhetorical strategies chosen by their political leadership to justify the deployment to their peoples. The fact that a common thread—domestic support falls as the course of the war deteriorates—is still discernible is remarkable in light of the diversity of the cases studied.
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