The costly war in Afghanistan

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Polls show the war in Afghanistan remains low on the list of voters concerns.
Jobs, the economy and immigration are usually rated as the major issues in this year’s midterm congressional elections.

A July poll by CBS News showed that only 7 percent of Americans considered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the most important problems facing the country. By comparison, 38 percent considered jobs and the economy as the most important problem facing the country.

That’s understandable and is unlikely to change unless the economy gets better or more Americans see the connection between spending on the wars and spending on domestic programs.

Many Americans are under tremendous financial pressure and are worried about finding a job or losing their jobs.

Concerned about losing their jobs, homes and health care, the fact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have accrued a trillion dollars in direct military costs is not at the top of the minds of voters.

While it may be an afterthought for the average person, President Barack Obama and Congress should be more concerned about all the financial, political and human costs involved in fighting this nine-year war.

A few days before the House of Representatives approved the provision of $37 billion to continue financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the publication of thousands of classified battlefield reports that paints a grim picture of the war in Afghanistan.

The disclosure of the documents by the website WikiLeaks should force a rethinking of America’s commitment to the war.

The documents reveal the connections between the Taliban and other insurgent groups and Pakistan’s main spy agency. So here we have key members of the government of our supposed ally cooperating with the enemy. The documents also reveal that the war is causing a number of civilian deaths, which undercuts support of Afghan society and complicates the military mission.

In addition to the disturbing news revealed by WikiLeaks, new reports show that July was the deadliest ever month for American troops in the war in Afghanistan.

Sixty-six American troops were killed last month. So far this year at least 265 American troops have died in the Afghan war.

The rising death toll follows a sharp increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan. American troop there now stands at 95,000.

President Obama and the war supporters in Congress have downplayed the release of the classified documents from WikiLeaks as old information.

Supporters of the war are standing by the president’s new strategy of a surge in American troop levels committed to the war in Afghanistan. Obama ordered an increase of 30,000 American troops last December in an effort to turn back the resurgent Taliban.

The president urges Americans to have patience and give the new strategy time to work.

But the president and Congress should explain to the American people why after nine years of war should U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan?

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

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