What Afghans Are Thinking

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(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

This is startling–and more than a little discouraging:

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…

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.

The report also finds that “55% of interviewees believe that the international community is in Afghanistan for its own benefit, to destroy or occupy the country, or to destroy Islam.”

It’s important to remember that poll after poll also shows that Afghans overwhelmingly dislike the Taliban and don’t want to live under its control. Still, America’s prospects for propping up an arguably illegitimate president who constantly trashes us to a population that doesn’t understand why on earth we’re in their country except maybe to destroy Islam are… daunting, to say the least.

Via @mattyglesias