Tuesday, November 02, 2010


In an article entitled "The war an election forgot", the Los Angeles Times uses the story of 1st Sgt. Patrick Olechny and his wife Veda as the backdrop to examine the unusual situation in which the nation is at war and that war was not mentioned at all during any campaigns at any level. It's as if the 150,000 troops and their families didn't exist, as if a war a half a world away wasn't happening, as if the extraordinary amount of American treasure in lives and dollars wasn't being drained away.

...In this turbulent election season — amid the talk of "tea parties" and the economy and President Obama's approval rating and the fight to control Congress and bailouts and deficits and fear and anger — there is little mention of Afghanistan or Iraq. ...

The United States is now in the ninth year of the longest conflict in its history, fought by 150,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq at a cost of more than $1 trillion. That is considerably more than the ultimate price of the much-debated Troubled Asset Relief Program, which bailed out automakers, banks and a handful of insurers.

Yet neither party has much incentive to discuss the fighting half a world away.

Democrats are pleased with the winding down of U.S. involvement in Iraq, but divided over Obama's decision to escalate efforts in Afghanistan; they don't want to pile onto a president already in political trouble.

Republicans, unhappy with Obama's opposition to the Iraq war when he ran for president, tend to agree with his approach in Afghanistan; but they aren't about to praise the Democratic commander in chief in the middle of the midterm campaign.

I suppose the candidates and the parties they represent have somewhat of an excuse for being silent on the war. After all, there's an election to be won. And the press is finally reporting on the tribulations facing troops in Afghanistan, so it's not as if our news media doesn't know there's a war going on.

This particular article, linking those directly and deeply involved in the Afghanistan War with the election of those officials who will control their fate, is obviously somewhat timely: it is, after all, election day. Why, however, wasn't that kind of link made earlier, say, when it might have made a difference? Why weren't candidates for the House and Senate questioned about that trillion dollar price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when the issue of budget deficits was being discussed? Is war so much a part of our national psyche that it has become a given, one that must never be questioned?

I guess it's another case of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

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