Offentlig støtte i asymmetrisk krigføring: Hvordan amerikansk opinion påvirket utfallet av Afghanistankrigen
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- Master theses 
In April 2021, President Biden announced the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan. Thereby ending the United States’ longest war by August 31st 2021. Seemingly, the drawdown was not motivated by any new evolvement or successes in Afghanistan. Rather, according to President Biden, the Taliban proved to be at their militarily strongest in the twenty-year long military operation, at the time of the drawdown. Due to the Taliban’s strength, the announcement was met with critique by many. Since 2001 the four US presidents have announced both troop drawdowns and troop surges, claiming that the war ought to be put to a responsible end. President Biden justified the end of the war by pointing to the high economic and human costs, and the fact that the terrorist threat had metastasized beyond Afghanistan. Therefore, Biden could not see any reason as to why American sons and daughters should have to keep fighting in Afghanistan. In this thesis I seek to discover in what ways, if any, the public opinion of US citizens affected Biden’s decision to end the military operation in Afghanistan. Drawing on theories of asymmetrical warfare, public opinion, and responsiveness, I expect that the erosion of public support for war would have strengthened the motivation behind ending the twenty-year long operation. Through process tracing, I review data on public opinion polls, troop casualties, military budgets, elite rhetoric, and party platforms from 2001 to 2021. The research question is: How did the American public opinion affect the outcome of the war in Afghanistan? It is important to note that the war and public opinion are mutually influential. In times where the military operation was less successful, public opinion was also negatively impacted, and vice versa. I attempted to work around the issue of mutual influence by focusing the analysis on exogenous events; the war in Iraq, and the emergence of ISIS. The findings imply that the eroding public support had less of a direct impact on the decision to leave Afghanistan, than the theory suggested. President Biden’s justification built on the costs of war and the fact that the Afghan terrorist threat had been eradicated. These are some of the same elements which seem to impact the public opinion in a negative manner. Thus, one can conclude that there is a causal relationship between the two variables, however it is difficult to identify in which way. Using public rhetoric as data may prove problematic, seeing as the elites often say what the people want to hear, and may not always disclose every reason behind their decisions. Therefore, this will be an interesting question to examine further in future research by utilising alternative methods to identify the underlying motivation behind ending the war, which may not have been disclosed to the public.