Sunday, April 26, 2009

The forgotten war?

President Barack Obama recently stated his intention to increase America's involvement in the war in Afghanistan. He has committed more U.S. military personnel to it and has lobbied other countries to increase their involvement, too.

With all the controversy surrounding the Iraq War, many have remarked that the Afghanistan War has become a forgotten war in some respects. Until the last few months, the media definitely had focused more on Iraq.

I guess I can understand that point of view because the mainstream media has the resources and power to influence the public's attention span. If the focus is on one story night after night, it sucks us into it.

However, this approach has done a tremendous disservice to the troops serving in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been an important battleground throughout the war on terror, and the decision to de-emphasize the reporting of it has been a real shame.

With the president's decision to boost America's commitment there, the war is now returning to center stage. I would like to think that most of us understand why this war is so important.

If the Afghanistan government were to be taken back over by the Taliban, the country will once again be a safe place for terrorists. The 9/11 attacks were masterminded there primarily because the Taliban gave aid and comfort to al-Qaida.

Though the United States booted the Taliban from power in the weeks following 9/11, the group has been gradually re-organizing and is a substantial threat to the country's stability.

This may be an odd example, but I fear that we may be witnessing a playing out of the Aesop fable titled 'The Tortoise and the Hare.' In that fable, the tortoise and hare raced each other. The hare was convinced of his invincibility and ran out to a substantial lead.

However, the tortoise kept slowly plugging along, and eventually won the race because the hare lacked the commitment to do what it took to win.

Could this now be happening? The United States initially raced out to a large lead when we routed the Taliban back in 2001. Most of us thought the war was won, and we believed the rest of our time there would be spent assisting the new government.

Despite being routed, the Taliban regrouped and slowly began re-establishing itself. Eight years later, we are fighting the same people we thought we had vanquished.

Perhaps the question we should be asking is whether or not the American public will have the backbone to be patient while this war unfolds. Remember, President Obama has not presented a specific timeline regarding how long our commitment in Afghanistan will be.

If this commitment lasts for years, will the president be dragged down by it?

President Bush was certainly dragged down by Iraq. 'The New York Times' wasted no time in trying to apply the adjective 'quagmire' to the Iraq War. Of course, 'The Times' was attempting to evoke the Vietnam War when it implied Iraq was becoming a 'quagmire.'

Because the paper has been so friendly to Obama, I am not anticipating any knee-jerk reactions from it regarding Afghanistan. There is a zero percent chance that the term 'quagmire' will be applied.

However, as long as we are in our recession, I believe most of America will give Obama the benefit of the doubt on Afghanistan. Right now, folks are too focused on their bank accounts to get very concerned about something happening on the other side of the world.

I can't decide whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

1 comment:

Joltin' Django said...

I support Obama's "surge" in Afghanistan. (See, I can support our current president.) Given what's happening in Pakistan right now, however, I fear that an even bigger surge into the Afghan/Pak theatre is needed to ward of the Taliban.

The situation in Pakistan is very precarious right now; it's a shame that major media outlets aren't giving news from there the attention it deserves.