Immediately following UBL’s death, media pundits begin assessing the implications on the U.S. & NATO mission in Afghanistan. With the U.S. slated to begin a draw down at the end of summer 2011 and NATO allies aggressively looking for an exit sign, UBL’s death again raised the questions: “Why are we in Afghanistan?” and “How much longer will we be there?”
The Post UBL Poll asked the following question during the week immediately following UBL’s death:
What will be the chief consequence of UBL’s death for the U.S. and its Western allies?
140 respondents answered this question with surprisingly uniform distribution of votes across all professional categories and question responses.
- Most voters (44%) thought UBL’s death would result in no significant change in U.S. & NATO operations.
- Many (36%) thought public pressure would force the withdrawal of Western partners from Afghanistan.
- Few (20%) thought UBL’s death would shift the strategy from counterinsurgency (COIN) focus in Afghanistan to a regional counterterrorism (CT) focus in AFPAK.
- Military voters were the only sub-group that thought somewhat differently than the overall crowd. Most military voters believe UBL’s death will lead to the exit of their NATO partners. (47% for Military compared to 37% for the crowd as a whole)
As for me, I chose a “shift to counterterrorism operations (Biden Plan).” NATO partners have already determined they are leaving. Amidst the Afghan ‘Surge’/COIN struggles we have stopped dreaming of a functioning Afghan democracy. Several American advisers in Afghanistan have gone so far as to endorse reinforcing tribal leadership structures to ensure local level stability rather than pursuing the COIN objective of functioning representative government.
I believe UBL’s death leads to an enduring U.S. counterterrorism presence that will go on long after 2014 and likely for most of our lifetimes. A counterterrorism approach advocated by many more than two years ago. More to follow reference Afghanistan…(but if you want my stance, see this from 2007)
Here are two charts, the first shows the raw vote totals of all 140 respondents. The second pie chart shows the breakdown of 28 voters declaring ‘Government-Military’ as their professional group.