Other Voices: Afghan war still major issue

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When American troops launched attacks in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, the purpose of the new war made perfect sense. The conflict was strongly supported by the American public and was at the forefront of the their attention.

Almost 11 years later, the purpose for the continued American presence in Afghanistan is cloudy to the point all too many Americans either have forgotten we are still there or rarely think about it.

Most who are aware of our presence there aren’t supportive of it. An Associated Press-GfK poll in May showed the percentage of Americans who were opposed to the war more than doubled those who were in favor of it.

Don’t look for it to be much of an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign. The candidates rarely mention Afghanistan.

It is a shame so many American people don’t seem to notice or care about what is going on in Afghanistan. Our troops, who continue to put their lives on the line there, deserve better.

More than 1,950 Americans have died in Afghanistan in the past 11 years, and recently the deaths have been coming on the average of one a day, according to The Associated Press. More than 80,000 American troops serve there today.

Some of the confusion on the part of Americans could be a sense we have already won the war. After all, the origin of the conflict was to strike against al-Qaida, the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is dead, and his organization — which had operated training camps in Afghanistan prior to the attacks — has very little presence there today.

The Taliban regime, which U.S. leaders said supported al-Qaida and protected bin Laden, was defeated shortly after U.S. troops invaded the country and was replaced.

Unfortunately, U.S, military resources were split when the U.S. became involved in the Iraq war. As a result, the Taliban rebounded and gained in strength.

The voters who supported President Obama in 2008 probably expected a quick end to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan after his election, but it didn’t turn out that way. In fact, the president sent 33,000 more troops there in December 2009.

Adding the extra troops made good sense at the time, because a stronger presence helped make all of our troops safer. However, the extra strength didn’t make a significant difference in reaching a quicker end to the military conflict.

How is it we overcame al-Qaida in Afghanistan and defeated the Taliban in a matter of weeks in 2001 but can’t seem to overpower the insurgents now when we have 80,000 troops there?

The Afghan government is weak and unstable, and proponents of the war argue the Taliban will easily take over if the U.S. leaves.

They have a point, but American troops are dying there, and that justifies making the war in Afghanistan a front-burner issue. The presidential candidates should be discussing in depth defeating the insurgents and stabilizing Afghanistan.

And people across our nation should remember the brave Americans who are serving there. Americans should not let Afghanistan be a forgotten war.

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

 


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