Few Americans who experienced the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001 expected that the “war on terror” would still be ongoing 11 years later. All of the major wars in U.S. history were resolved in far less time. For example, U.S. participation in World War I lasted just one year, seven months; in Korea, three years, one month; in World War II, three years, eight months; the Civil War, four years; the U.S. War of Independence and our fighting in Vietnam were previous record holders at eight years, five months each. Our official involvement in Iraq lasted eight years, nine months, though U.S. troops remain in “advisory” capacities.
As for the cost in lives, the Washington Post reported that “as of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, at least 1,980 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan … according to an Associated Press count.”
As our military presence in Afghanistan continues without an end in sight, the anti-war protests that persisted throughout the war in Vietnam are curiously absent and even news of the war is becoming infrequent. It seems Americans have tired of even mentioning the war. An article written September 9 by Robert Burns, national security writer at the Associated Press, carried the headline: “War-weary US is numbed to drumbeat of troop deaths in Afghanistan.”
Burns’ report was prompted by the announcement of five U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan last week, including 20-year-old PFC Shane W. Cantu of Corunna, Michigan. Observed Burns:
American troops are still dying in Afghanistan at a pace that doesn't often register beyond their hometowns. So far this year, it's 31 a month on average, or one per day. National attention is drawn, briefly, to grim and arbitrary milestones such as the 1,000th and 2,000th war deaths. But days, weeks and months pass with little focus by the general public or its political leaders on the individuals behind the statistics.
Curiously, Burns quoted a man named Max Boot, identified as a military historian and defense analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the internationalist policy organization whose members have largely formulated the interventionist foreign policies of every presidential administration since World War II. CFR members Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Robert Gates served in the administration of George W. Bush and greatly influenced Bush’s war decisions, with Gates staying on as Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration until mid-2011.
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Photo of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan holding a moment of silence on Sept. 11, 2012: AP Images