Public Opinion

 “In the decade before 1789 most men, it seems, felt that their state and their community were real,” says Walter Lippman in Public Opinion, “but that the confederation of states was unreal.”  Described by President Theodore Roosevelt as “the most brilliant man of his age in the United States,” Lippman explained the difference between the American founders’ experience, that “had rarely traversed the imaginary boundaries of their states,” and their need to enlarge the level of abstraction for which they felt a patriotic attachment in order to ensure safety and happiness for themselves and posterity.  “The need existed, in the sense that affairs were askew unless the need of unity was taken into account.”  Public opinion in the United States is currently askew, with 57% of Americans disapproving of the way Barack Obama is handling the situation in Afghanistan.1

“We will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan,” Obama said of his way forward in Afghanistan after months of indecision as a commander-in-chief out of touch with the American military: 

  • Deny al Qaeda a safe haven. 
  • Reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. 
  • Strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.

Considering the amount of time the United States has needed to occupy parts of Western Europe and East Asia after the Second World War, the American people, their allies, and enemies alike can all readily conclude that Obama’s military objectives won’t be achieved in the months to come, when he says “our troops will begin to come home.”  It only shows Obama to be more interested in partisan politics than in solving problems for the American people.2

“My marching orders are to do all that is humanly possible to help us achieve our objectives,” General David Petraeus, commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in an article published in today’s edition of The New York Times, describing his effort to rally American public opinion to secure unalienable rights through the institution of government among men and women in Afghanistan.3

Experience has shown that the United States must realize its exceptional need stated by President George Washington – as his wish from the grave – for the glory of recommending the United States Constitution to the applause, the affection, and adoption of all women and men created equal in Afghanistan and every other nation.4

With respect to American sacrifices necessary in Afghanistan and the United States’ national purpose, stated in the Declaration of Independence and celebrated on the Fourth of July, what objective seems most likely to effect our safety and happiness?

References

1.  Walter Lippman, Public Opinion (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 139-140.  Jeffrey M. Jones, “On the Issues, Obama Finds Majority Approval Elusive,” Gallup, August 11, 2010.

2.  Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” The White House, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan.

3.  Dexter Filkins, “General Opposes a Hasty Pullout in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, August 16, 2010, A1.

4.  John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, 39 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1932), 35:217-218.

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