The BBC still trying its best:
How many more will die in vain before we withdraw?
Seumas Milne - Guardian.co.uk
July 15, 2009
The attempt to exploit soldiers' deaths to win support for the shameful war in Afghanistan thankfully isn't working
All week politicians, media and the military have strained every nerve to turn public sympathy over the deaths of British squaddies into support for the US-led occupation of Afghanistan. After a year of parades, a new Armed Forces Day and a stream of censored reports of derring-do from the frontline, the killing of 15 soldiers in 10 days has triggered a barrage of war propaganda. Having all but ignored the same number who died in Helmand province last month, every tabloid and Whitehall stop has been pulled out to capitalise on the emotions unleashed by the continuing sacrifice of British teenagers in an endless war.
From the Ministry of Defence-orchestrated processions of coffins through the Wiltshire village of Wootton Bassett to the black ties worn by Sky TV presenters as they address generals as "sir", the message is clear: this war is a "patriotic duty", in the prime minister's words. The only argument in parliament yesterday was whether the government had provided enough helicopters and boots on the ground to do the job.
Meanwhile, the BBC seems to have largely abandoned any attempt at neutral reporting, as its newsreaders warn "Britain's resolve is being put to the test" and presenters speculate anxiously about what might happen if public "support" for the war "were to weaken". We can't pull out now, the war's cheerleaders warn, or our boys will have died in vain.
But the campaign isn't working. As in other Nato states, most people in Britain haven't supported the Afghan war for several years. A Guardian/BBC Newsnight poll this week found that 56% want troops to pull out by the end of the year; an ITN poll showed 59% backing withdrawal. Significantly, both surveys found opposition to the war highest in the working class communities from which most of those doing the fighting are drawn.
Heightened awareness of British casualties may rally support for an army anxious to overcome its humiliation in Iraq. But after eight years of fighting, during which a kaleidoscope of justifications has been offered for the continuing Nato occupation, public scepticism has clearly bitten deep.
Gates: US public may stop backing Afghan war
July 19 2009
The US defense secretary has admitted that the American public will likely stop backing the war in Afghanistan a day after a top US military chief said he can not see an end to the long-fought war.
"After the Iraq experience, nobody is prepared to have a long slog where it is not apparent we are making headway," Robert Gates told The Los Angeles Times.
Gates admitted that the American public, and the US military are unwilling to get trapped in an aimless quagmire abroad, following the Iraq war.
"This is where we are really getting back into the fight," Gates said.
While admitting that the war in Afghanistan is a "long-term prospect" which cannot be won in one year Gates said foreign troops must begin turning around the situation in Afghanistan within a year.
Seven and half years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Adm Michael Mullen said in an interview with the BBC at the Bagram airbase in north of Kabul that he has no idea how long it will take for security to improve in Afghanistan.
"I don't know how long. I know that it's gotten progressively worse over the last three, three-and-a-half years, since 2006, and the Taliban has gotten much better," Mullen said.