On September 17, Zogby International polled 1,018 people and asked them, among other things, “Would you support or oppose an all-out war against countries which harbor or aid terrorists?” An enormous 75% of respondents said that they would. But just 10 days later, on September 27, that number fell 9 points to only 66%.
I assume part of that is the very welcome restrained reaction of the George W. Bush administration. Like a lot of people apparently, I expected that cruise missiles and long range bombers would have been used very quickly to strike at Afghanistan. But Bush has been extremely restrained — far more restrained, in fact, than I think either Al Gore or Bill Clinton would have been (both of whom seemed to value symbols over substance in these sort of crises).
I almost couldn’t believe it when I read an interview with some official (I think it was Donald Rumsfeld) saying that whatever the ultimate military response would be, it was not the intent of the United States to overthrow the Taliban regime. Clearly the United States is doing everything it can to undermine the Taliban short of actual hostilities, but I was surprised they were ruling out military action specificlaly targeting Afghanistan’s government.
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