A new ABC News / Washington Post poll found that after nine years of war in Afghanistan fewer Afghans support a U.S. presence in their country or believe the U.S. forces are making their country safer.
Just 43 percent of Afghans now express a favorable opinion of the United States, down 8 points to a new low; and fewer, 32 percent, rate the U.S. performance in Afghanistan positively, tying the low. Both are at about half of their peak in 2005.
But despite these unfavorable poll numbers, Gen. David Petraeus told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview, he was encouraged by the progress the United States has made in Afghanistan since President Obama's surge began. The general stopped short of saying he was confident the Afghan army would be able to take the lead from U.S. forces by the 2014 NATO deadline.
"I think no commander ever is going to come out and say, 'I'm confident that we can do this.' I think that you say that you assess that this is-- you believe this is, you know, a reasonable prospect and knowing how important it is-- that we have to do everything we can to increase the chances of that prospect," the top commander in Afghanistan said. "But again, I don't think there are any sure things in this kind of endeavor. And I wouldn't be honest with you and with the viewers if I didn't convey that."
Petraeus also told Stephanopoulos that while there's progress in securing certain sections of the country, U.S. forces will continue to go after insurgents with full force.
"This is actually true of the overall fight against al Qaeda and trans-national extremists, that as you put pressure on them in one location, they'll seek safe haven sanctuaries in other areas," he said. "So you do have to continue to pursue them. But they have less capability."
Petraeus says victory in Afghanistan will not be as simple as planting a flag on a hill and going home.
"Between the summer of 2011 and the end of 2014 there will be, again, a series of transitions, starting most likely at districts, not in overall provinces," he said, adding that withdrawl will be based on "ability of Afghan forces to take on tasks that, until then, we had performed."
So our question for you today is: Do You think the United States can win the war in Afghanistan?
Gary Langer and Kate McCarthy contributed to this report.