Few Afghans Know Why The U.S. Is In Their Country

Afghans in two crucial southern provinces are almost completely unaware of the September 11 attacks on the United States and don't know they precipitated the foreign intervention now in its 10th year, a new report showed on Friday.

If it’s possible for something to be both alarming and at the same time not surprising, this report about what Afghans citizens know about the war being fought in their country would be it:

KABUL — Afghans in two crucial southern provinces are almost completely unaware of the September 11 attacks on the United States and don’t know they precipitated the foreign intervention now in its 10th year, a new report showed on Friday.

NATO leaders gathered in Lisbon for a summit on Friday where the transition from foreign forces — now at about 150,000 — to Afghan security responsibility will be at the top of the agenda, with leaders to discuss a 2014 target date set by Kabul.

Few Afghans in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, Taliban strongholds where fighting remains fiercest, know why foreign troops are in Afghanistan, says the “Afghanistan Transition: Missing Variables” report to be released later on Friday.

The report by The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) policy think-tank showed 92 percent of 1,000 Afghan men surveyed in Helmand and Kandahar know nothing of the hijacked airliner attacks on U.S. targets in 2001.

“The lack of awareness of why we are there contributes to the high levels of negativity toward the NATO military operations and made the job of the Taliban easier,” ICOS President Norine MacDonald told Reuters from Washington.

“We need to explain to the Afghan people why we are here, and both convince them and show them that their future is better with us than the Taliban,” MacDonald said.

That, I would think, is why it’s somewhat alarming. If we’re supposed to be helping these people and they don’t know why we’re there, that does make the mission just a little bit harder.

At the same time, though, I cannot say I’m surprised that in a nation where the literacy rate is, by some estimates, only 28%, large numbers of people have no idea what happened in the United States nine years ago.

FILED UNDER: Asia, Quick Takes, World Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I suspect that few people in this country know why we’re there any longer.

  2. Dave beat me to it.

  3. Frank says:

    This post really changed my view on the war, drastically.