Forgotten fight: Country’s longest war deserves focus

Right now, as you sit here reading this, there is a war being fought. Nearing its 12th year, mentions of the Afghanistan war has been gone from the mouths of Americans.  Other priorities have taken root, like hot button topics on the presidential campaign trail. Almost 2,000 troops have been killed since the start of the war in 2001. So why do we not pay attention?

Americans go on with their daily lives unaffected by the war. We do not wake up every morning to the sound of gunshots and yells. We do not have the constant fear of a car bomb going off in the streets or soldiers bursting into our homes. Since the war is not fought on U.S. soil, the impact of violence does not affect us personally. A disconnect has formed between news cycles and those fighting over seas, making death tolls seem like just another number, except to the families of service members.

Often confused with the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war started under the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks to fight the terrorist group al-Qaida and the Taliban, an Islamic militant group. Eleven years later, it still drags on with almost 80,000 troops deployed. The U.S. government caught a break in May 2011 when a group of Navy SEALS raided al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound and killed him. bin Laden’s death did not come without controversy, and al-Qaida vowed to avenge his death. Some argue that bin Laden’s death calls for a abrupt exit from the country, while others say the United States needs to stay to ensure that Afghanistan stays somewhat stable. President Barack Obama  compromised, calling for 10,000 troops’ withdrawal in 2011 and 20,000 by the end of this year. A full troop withdrawal is set for 2014, with 20,000 troops being stationed abroad for support purposes.

Fighting off car bombs and suicide bombers every day, it seems like U.S. troops would be better off not being in Afghanistan. But reality is inevitable — it’s nearly impossible to pull out of a war, especially an unwinnable one. The second troops pull out, Afghanistan is going to be back where it was at the beginning of the decade — a violent, frightened country that still doesn’t allow women to work or be educated. The plight of these women goes unnoticed in our news cycle filled with campaign polls and attack ads. There is no way to pull out of the war unscathed. An unwinnable war, death tolls climbing, oppressed citizens — it deserves our attention.

Class of 2014

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