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Good questions on Afghanistan

International Politics, Politics, US Politics

Over time, the place which the Afghanistan war retains in the American political conversation has become reduced to a marginal subject with an overwhelmingly symbolic role. As debate raged over the rightness or wrongness of the Iraq invasion, Afghanistan became more of an abstraction: the blank screen upon which the opponents projected the contrast and comparison they needed for their argument.

Image used under a CC license from Flickr user vendrán mañana

Image used under a CC license from Flickr user vendrán mañana

For Republicans, Afghanistan was Iraq’s little brother, mostly ignored but useful as illustration for the case that we’re fighting a global, interconnected War on Terror. For most Democrats and Obama supporters, meanwhile, Afghanistan has become “the good war”, the other war, the war you do support. The waning fortunes of the allied troops in Afghanistan appear most only as useful demonstration for the argument that Bush dropped the ball on Al-Qaeda and that Iraq was a ‘distraction’.

Either way, the answer seems almost unanimous: we need to stay in Afghanistan. And finish the job. The Republicans think it’s important – they’re totally about the War on Terror. Hey, it was their idea! The Democrats, too, want to invest more resources in Afghanistan; their very urge to do so is the proof of their military toughness bona fides, the deflection of any accusation of pacifism.

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