Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Afghanistan and the Pundits

Check out this cool graphic of where the various pundits fit on Afghanistan.  Where would I fit?  Probably somewhere near the President's plan, I suppose.  My ambivalence makes me hard to code.

The larger point is that we have a whole heap of dissensus on the issue.  This may not be a representative list of names--perhaps an accurate survey would have more folks in one corner of the circle (yes, a circle can have corners if I say so).  But the key is that we should stop saying with any sense of incredulity that the people are confused by Afghanistan when the messengers and the decision-makers (not to mention the war itself) are so very confused.  Of course, publics are confused.  The situation itself is fairly opaque, counter-insurgency is less easy to measure than conventional war (where there are often surprises as well), and the elites do not have any level of coherence on this.

I believe it was Feaver (need to re-read civ-mil stuff for winter semester's course) who argued that public support for war correlates highly with elite consensus, which goes a long way to explaining why the war used to be popular but is no longer.  I do think he was right on this, if not on everything.

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