We still enjoy widespread approval from the Afghans – I recently drove about a thousand miles through Afghanistan without soldiers – but year by year, mistake by inevitable mistake, our support is eroding. On a recent trip back from Afghanistan that took us through Bahrain and Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told me privately that his biggest concern is that we could lose support from the Afghan people.
In fact, just days before in Afghanistan, I saw Gates discuss the same topic with Gen. David McKiernan. McKiernan, a highly respected officer, confirmed to Gates that support of the Afghan people remains good. But again, the clock is ticking, and everyone who is paying attention can imagine the implications of moving too slowly.