Poll Looks At Views Of Young Afghan Men
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Now to Afghanistan, where the Taliban have made good on their promise to ramp up attacks this spring. Yesterday, in a brazen strike in eastern Afghanistan, suicide bombers stormed a government building, killing six people.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
Welcome to the program.
NORINE MACDONALD: Thank you very much.
SIEGEL: I'd like you to tell us about the views you heard in the south of Afghanistan about NATO and the Taliban.
MACDONALD: There's been a lot of military successes in southern Afghanistan. But this number seems to illustrate, as we said, the deterioration of the hearts and minds battle.
SIEGEL: And when you say that the war for hearts and minds of young men in the South, men of fighting age, appears to being lost by NATO, why? If NATO is seen to have the upper hand, what is it about the effort that seems to be losing in its appeal to these people?
MACDONALD: At the same time, the Taliban have used this as an opportunity to push back on their main propaganda points, quote-unquote, "collateral damage," the killing of Afghan civilians, the destruction of property. And a lot of their propaganda points are linked to legitimate grievances of the local people.
SIEGEL: What did you hear about the idea that the United States might radically reduce its presence in Afghanistan? Would people look upon that favorably or would the U.S. be seen as pulling the rug out from under Afghanistan?
MACDONALD: This was very popular, and it's for two reasons. One is because they support the transition process that's going through, which has to do with governance and rule of law. And part of it is reflecting on anti-foreigner sentiment, that they would like to see us gone at any cost. So you sort of combine both elements there, but it's generally supported across all the districts where we did the interviewing.
SIEGEL: So bottom line, I mean if people at the Pentagon, you know, if you had their ear for a moment and you are to say here's what I see in this poll, here's what you should see and what you should do, what is it?
MACDONALD: Norine MacDonald, thank you very much for talking with us.
MACDONALD: Thank you very much.
SIEGEL: Norine MacDonald is president and lead field researcher for the International Council on Security, ICOS. She's based in Afghanistan but spoke with us from Paris.
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