The Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, on regional war support:For almost a decade, our heavily Republican, proudly pro-military region of Florida has backed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as vital actions in the fight against global terrorism. Doubters often were warned, “If you don't support the war, you don't support the troops.''
Surveys found similar sentiments. In March 2007, the Daily News asked its online readers if Congress should set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. A majority said no.
In September 2009, we asked whether the United States should pull out of Afghanistan. A majority said no. A month later, we asked whether President Barack Obama should give his military commanders all the troops they wanted to wage war in Afghanistan. A hefty 80 percent said yes.
What a difference 20 months can make.
Now, folks say we can't end those wars fast enough. Asked if the United States should speed up its pullout of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, 80 percent of online respondents said yes.
More telling, 72 percent said Congress should cut off funding for U.S. military strikes against Libyan dictator and airline bomber Moammar Gadhafi.
These poll results are not scientific and we've never pretended they were. But they're enough to indicate a trend _ that, plus the virtual disappearance of pro-war letters from our mailbag. No one argues anymore that “if you don't support the war, you don't support the troops.''
Does this mean that historically hawkish northwest Florida has become a hotbed of pacifism? Of course not.
A cynic might say that local support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began to wither after Republican George W. Bush left office. Once they became a Democratic president's wars, it was easier to oppose them.
We don't buy it. That logic overlooks our October 2009 poll, which showed strong support for the Afghanistan war under Obama.
No, the real explanation has less to do with politics and more to do with simple fatigue. People here, like Americans everywhere, have grown weary of long-running wars in far-off lands.