Feature

How about listening to the Afghans?

Only 8 percent of Afghans in two key provinces have even heard of the Sept. 11 attacks, said David Ignatius in The Washington Post.

David IgnatiusThe Washington Post

Only 8 percent of Afghans in two key provinces have even heard of the Sept. 11 attacks. And that, said David Ignatius, tells you why most people there do not support the U.S. mission or even understand why yet another group of foreign soldiers is occupying their country. A new survey of 1,000 men in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, by Canadian researcher Norine MacDonald, found that the vast majority of Afghans have no knowledge of the events that led U.S. and NATO forces to occupy their country. More than half “oppose military operations against the Taliban in their area.” Nearly three-quarters say “foreigners disrespect their religion,” and 58 percent “think it’s wrong to work with foreign forces.”

So far, President Obama’s “core assumption”—that driving the Taliban from Kandahar and Helmand would enable local governments to win popular support—remains “unproven.” So when Afghan President Hamid Karzai complains about the U.S.’s hardball military tactics, he isn’t going rogue. “He’s expressing what many Afghans feel. After nine years of war, the Afghans want their country back.”

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