Among the few things that Democrats and Republicans agree upon these days is that the rapid and chaotic departure of U.S. troops after a 20-year military occupation of Afghanistan was a disaster on many levels. A new I&I/TIPP Poll asks Americans the question: “Who, besides the Taliban, bears the most blame for the recent tragedy in Afghanistan?”
The answer came back loud and clear: The largest share of voters, 40%, blame President Joe Biden. A smaller yet still significant share, 23%, blame Donald Trump. The other choices included Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (2%), Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (2%), and the U.S. intelligence agencies (10%).
The September data come from the monthly I&I/TIPP poll, conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. The online poll of 1,305 adults was taken from Sept. 1 through Sept. 3, as events unfolded in Afghanistan after the U.S.’ departure. The poll, part of a broad new public opinion collaboration between Issues & Insights and TIPP, has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 points.
The shockingly rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban following the ill-timed U.S. departure led to 13 Americans killed in a terrorist bombing, thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies stranded in the country with no way out, and billions of dollars in U.S. arms and equipment in the hands of the Taliban.
The fast-developing events have led to serious public opinion and image problems for the Biden administration, both in the U.S. and abroad.
But that’s not to say that public opinion is monolithic. Indeed, Republicans and Democrats are, as is often the case, nearly perfectly split in how they assign blame for the Afghan debacle.
While, overall, 40% of Americans say they blame Biden, just 19% of Democrats do. Instead, 40% of Dems blame Trump.
Not surprisingly, Republicans and independents assign the blame somewhat differently. Of Republicans, 73% blame Biden for the Afghan mess, while 38% independents do. But 20% of independents finger Trump as responsible.
Among the other significant results:
- The second-highest response wasn’t “Trump,” but “Not Sure,” which garnered 22%. Among those giving this answer, 27% of women said they were unsure, as opposed to just 17% for men. A similar divide could be seen between Dems (22% “Not Sure”), independents (26%), and Republicans (14%).
- Blacks and Hispanics apportioned blame equally between Biden and Trump. Each received 27%.
- The U.S. Intelligence Community was No. 3 in being blamed, at 10%. But here, too, was a political split: Both Democrats (13%) and independents (11%) were far more likely to blame our nation’s spy agencies than were Republicans (6%).
- Despite being in charge with executing Biden’s Afghanistan policies, neither Austin nor Blinken garnered much blame among Americans, who appear to see withdrawal as a largely presidential failure. None of the 21 demographic and regional groups broken out in our data gave more than 5% to either Austin or Blinken.
Meanwhile, a number of other recent polls, including opinion surveys by FiveThirtyEight, RealClearPolitics, and a Washington Post-ABC News poll, all show sharp increases in Biden’s disapproval ratings, a troubling sign for a presidency not yet eight months old.
Meanwhile, criticism of Biden by some former Obama administration officials and the media has at times been fierce. That includes the mainstream media, many of which seemed taken aback by the rapid unraveling of Afghanistan’s regime and the quick capture of the capital city of Kabul by the Taliban.
The question of whether Biden can weather the storm over his handling of Afghanistan, or whether it will cripple his administration, is an open one. COVID-19, rising inflation, massive new spending, and an enormous rise in illegal immigration across our southern border had already substantially weakened Biden’s presidency in the eyes of many Americans.
Will the Afghanistan debacle, for which a plurality of Americans blame Biden, be a final blow?
Americans Split On U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan, Support Continued Afghanistan Assistance (tippinsights, 05 Apr 2021)
Mark Pfeifle, a former deputy national security adviser for strategic affairs and global outreach who led the campaign to promote President George W. Bush's "surge" of U.S. forces in Iraq, discussed the TIPP Poll findings on the topic of complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Europe, the U.S., and their allies need a better, single infrastructure investment project to rival China's Belt and Road Initiative, according to Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
Officials from Europe, the United States, and other countries will gather in Tallinn next week to discuss how to align foreign investment programs to promote "trusted connectivity" and secure networks.
In order to "trust the digital element," Kallas says the West's support programs should assess how to trust infrastructure investments and what technology goes into networks.
Securing telecoms is now being debated in areas like transportation.
"We're assessing what tools we need to protect ourselves" and "to trust our data with these technologies," she said.
"We want to have smart cities. We want to have self-driving cars. So how do you trust the network?"
The E.U. cannot tolerate increasing human rights abuses or stay silent in the face of an increasingly expansionist and aggressive foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific region and on a global scale, European Parliament Vice President Fabio Massimo Castaldo said about China.
Taiwan, Castaldo says, is a counterpoint to China's regional advances.
The E.U. and Taiwan share values of democracy and freedom based on pluralism, and they fully respect the rule of law, he said.
Developing closer relations with partners who share common values and principles, such as Taiwan, Japan, India, Indonesia, and South Korea, is essential if the E.U. wants to strengthen its diplomatic and economic presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
As the Chinese government prepares to unveil new details of its climate change plans, key industries are sending mixed signals.
China is the world's largest source of greenhouse gases, and it has been under pressure to improve on its emissions pledges in time for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
The Conference of Parties, or COP26, brings together over 200 countries to discuss ways to mitigate the worst effects of global warming.
"China must urgently accelerate its electricity transition," said Ember, a UK-based climate research group.
Between January and June of this year, China accounted for 90% of global electricity demand growth.
China's steel industry, which accounts for about 15 percent of the country's carbon emissions, has been pushed to reach a peak by 2025, the Communist Party tabloid Global Times reported in March.
Container-Shipping Costs Surge To Record Highs
The cost of sending a shipping container from China to Europe has surged 637 percent in a year, while the cost to the U.S. has more than tripled, according to the Drewry World Container Index.
A standard FEU -- a forty-foot equivalent unit -- currently costs US$13,787 to be shipped from Shanghai to Rotterdam, up from $1,871 in August 2020. The cost of shipping it from Shanghai to Los Angeles has increased from $3,392 to $11,362 -- a hike of 235 percent, according to Drewry shipping consultants.
Freight rates are surging because demand is outstripping the availability of containers that carry most global trade.
The spread of the delta variant of coronavirus in Southeast Asia has meant even a small number of cases can cause significant disruptions to trade and shipping.
Last month the Chinese government temporarily closed part of the world's third-busiest container port at Ningbo-Zhoushan for two weeks after a single dockworker test positive for the delta variant. In May, authorities shutter the Yantian terminal in Shenzhen box port after discovering a handful of coronavirus cases.
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