In one of the major foreign policy speeches that Barack Obama gave in 2008, he declared that "the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. That's why ... my new strategy will be taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan." In the paragraphs that followed he set forth several goals: bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, routing the Taliban, killing al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and building a secure, stable Afghan democracy.
The United States achieved some of those goals and failed miserably at others. And the American people have rendered this judgment: the war wasn't worth it, we aren't going to win, and we ought to bring the troops home. That's the basic takeaway from the latest New York Times poll. Sixty-eight percent of Americans think the war is going somewhat or very badly, 69 percent say the U.S. should not be involved in the war, and 59 percent say that the endeavor hasn't been a success. And a staggering 77 percent say that we should withdraw our troops no later than 2014.
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