By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In the wake of the disastrous Wikileaks security breach, public confidence in the President’s handling of the war has plummeted, along with his approval ratings, to new lows.
USA Today is reporting that the rising death toll in Afghanistan coupled with the recent leak of classified military documents has eroded public support for the president’s handling of the war. The latest poll shows only 36 percent who approve of his handling of the war, down from 48 percent in February.
These numbers were no doubt influenced by growing concern among the public for the rising death toll in Afghanistan, which reached a record of 66 deaths in July, up from the previous record high of 60 in June. These numbers are the result of a surge of 30,000 troops into the country and an uptick in operations as the U.S. military tackles Taliban strongholds in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.
Another reason for the drop in support for the war effort was the online posting of thousands of sensitive military documents by Wikileaks. The prime suspect in the case has recently been revealed as a disgruntled homosexual who was furious at the military for its Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Two-thirds of those polled said they believe it was wrong for the website to publish the documents.
Not surprisingly, the growing dissatisfaction with the war and concern over the Wikileaks incident has brought Obama’s overall approval rating to a new low of just 41 percent, the lowest of his presidency.
“We will continue to face huge challenges in Afghanistan,” the president told the Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta yesterday. “It’s important that the American people know that we are making progress and we are focused on goals that are clear and achievable.”
During his address, he promised to stick to his plan of beginning to withdraw troops next summer. The USA Today poll shows a majority of Americans agreeing with the plan, with more than two-thirds saying they believe the withdrawal should be done gradually.
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