When President Barack Obama discloses his long-awaited decision on Afghanistan in a televised speech to the nation Tuesday night, he will be attempting a political feat that has eluded his predecessors: rallying public opinion behind a war that is fast losing public support.
According to the McClatchy Washington Bureau, the president's plan will include the addition of 34,000 U.S. troops. The reinforcements, together with a strategic reassessment and new tactics, are supposed to change the equation in Afghanistan and bring the conflict to some sort of satisfactory conclusion.
The public, however, is skeptical. Last week's polls show that Americans are increasingly disillusioned about the U.S. role in Afghanistan. One poll, commissioned by CNN, found respondents evenly divided over further troop deployments. Another poll, commissioned by USA Today, found nearly half endorsing the addition of more soldiers, but four in 10 saying it's time to begin withdrawing.
This is the same dilemma Lyndon Johnson faced in Vietnam. The more troops he deployed, the more support he lost back home; ultimately, it destroyed his presidency. President George W. Bush defied public opinion and sent more troops to Iraq -- the "surge" -- but he was well into his second term and willing to gamble his popularity to rescue the U.S. mission in Iraq.
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