Virtually every candidate for office during the recently concluded elections talked incessantly about jobs, jobs, jobs as their top priority. In a nation where the unemployment rate is 9.6% , it was infinitely reasonable to do so.
But it should be of great concern that amid the millions of dollars spent on television commercials, radio ads, and glossy mailers, barely a word was mentioned about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. That our leaders spent so little time talking about Afghanistan during the campaign does not bode well for their attention to the issue once it is time to govern.
Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal and Republican opponent Linda McMahon were practically everywhere during the last few months asking for the vote. A review of Senator-Elect Blumenthal’s campaign YouTube page shows at least 14 advertisements for television or radio. Of those, not one mentions the war in Afghanistan or America’s policy toward that conflict .
Mrs. McMahon’s first television advertisement began airing on September 23, 2009 and since that time she spent more than $46 million on her campaign. Her YouTube page reveals that of the at least 37 advertisements for the web or for television, more mentioned the War in Vietnam (at least two) than the war in Afghanistan (zero) .
A soul-crushing 475 American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan between the start of her advertising blitz and the end of the 2010 elections .
But it is hard to just blame the politicians for this sad state of affairs. According to an August 2010 survey by Gallup, only four percent of respondents cited the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as their top issue. 30% said that the economy in general was their top priority, while 28% mentioned jobs and the unemployment rate . When voters stop caring about certain issues, it becomes more difficult to get candidates to talk about them.
As one of the longest wars in America’s history, it isn’t surprising that people would become desensitized to the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, Americans look to their elected leaders to craft a strategy that will untangle our soldiers from a mission in Afghanistan that appears more and more pointless each day. The Afghan government is as corrupt as it is ineffectual, the Taliban is resurgent and Osama bin Laden remains at large.
America is in need of a new leadership on the Afghanistan War. Hopefully one of the recently-elected officials will provide it despite the issue’s absence during the campaign.
This article was originally published on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 in the Norwich Bulletin