Western public calls for troops to get out

Original source:

Majorities in the US, Britain, Germany and Canada want their governments to withdraw military forces from Afghanistan, according to polls.

As US President Barack Obama sends 9,000 more troops into the country to join the 59,000 US personnel who are already there, opposition to the apparently interminable conflict is hardening in the US, Europe and Canada.

July is already the deadliest month of the war for both US and NATO forces, with 63 soldiers killed, including 35 US and 19 British soldiers.

An Associated Press-GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media poll found that just 44 per cent of US citizens want US forces to stay in the country, while 53 per cent think that they should withdraw.

A separate 24-country poll on global attitudes to Mr Obama's policies by the non-partisan Pew Research Centre found that a majority of respondents in Britain, Germany and Canada, the top contributors to the US-led counterinsurgency campaign, think that their troops should withdraw.

Pew said that in Britain 46 per cent of respondents wanted to keep British troops deployed, while 48 per cent said they should pull out.

The research centre said in a statement that 'majorities or pluralities in 18 of 25 countries say that the US and NATO should remove their troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.'

In Canada, which has 2,500 soldiers deployed in Kandahar province, 50 per cent of the public are in favour of a withdrawal while 43 per cent think that the troops should stay.

In Germany, which has 4,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan's relatively quiet northern regions, government officials are continually on the defensive in the face of domestic polls finding that a majority of Germans oppose their government's involvement in combat missions.

Meanwhile, Pentagon special operations chief Michael Vickers has reported that Washington is sending more Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and a large fleet of missile-carrying Reaper drones to Afghanistan.

Mr Vickers said that manned C-12 aircraft are also providing surveillance and gathering intelligence in Afghanistan.

He said that the combination of unmanned aerial vehicles and sensor-laden aircraft with links to ground forces will give commanders an 'unblinking eye' over the country.