Blame it on economic worries, blame it on war fatigue, but there is no denying that Americans have little interest in the war in Afghanistan – nearly 11 years after the September 11th attacks.
There’s also no denying that if they do think about the war, a majority of Americans would just as soon pull their soldiers out of the country.
Several national polls conducted so far in 2012 have found a deepening opposition to the US-led war, by a two-to-one margin.
The latest poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University in July, not only confirms that opposition but also finds that it crosses party lines.
What is remarkable is that despite that opposition, few people have taken to the streets to pressure the administration to end the war sooner.
Analysts suggest that is because last year, the administration announced a timeline for withdrawing all US combat forces – December 31, 2014 – and has tried to stick to it.
They also suggest that Americans still support the administration’s goals of stabilising Afghanistan and of preventing it from becoming a safe haven for the Taliban and other groups.
However, there are still 28 months left in the current US mission that is a long time.
Already the military is struggling to stop a rash of deadly “green on blue” attacks – Afghan troops killing US and coalition troops.
These have raised concerns about the state of the relationship between US, coalition and Afghan security forces.
What’s more, even though current war-time operations are exempt from budget planning, potential mandatory budget cuts next year could limit how much US forces will be able to do on the ground – as well as affect all US post-war projects for Afghanistan.
In short, the next two and a half years will be a period of uncertainty. The challenge for the president will be to get the US public to pay attention, lest what has been called “the just war” end without notice.