No group of people is going to be enthusiastic about a foreign power dropping bombs on their countrymen, as the Pakistanis can attest. But a new poll from the Washington Post, ABC News and the BBC finds that 73 percent of Afghans say that U.S. air strikes are “unacceptable.” That’s an increase from the last survey, which found 66 percent opposition to the U.S. air war last December.
Back then, restrictions from General Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of the war, had all but stopped the air war entirely — and two-thirds of Afghans still disapproved of it. So NATO might have a statistical warning sign, now that its planes recently tallied 2,600 attack sorties between June and October, a 50 percent increase over the same period in 2009. In October 2010 alone, as Danger Room was the first to report, the U.S. launched more than 1,000 air strikes. That carries a risk of reviving the public anger over the air war that led McChrystal to tamp down the strikes in the first place.
But while disapproval of the strikes is almost back to January 2009’s level of 77 percent, not all Afghans consider the U.S. solely responsible for the civilian casualties they can cause. While 35 percent of Afghans blame the U.S. for deaths from above, nearly as many, 32 percent, blamed insurgents for getting civilians caught in the crossfire. Another 32 percent said both were to blame.
Awesome. The “good” news from that poll is that we are viewed as equally culpable as Al Qaeda.