Julian Zelizer: How Afghanistan Became the Ignored War





[Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security -- From World War II to the War on Terrorism" and of a book on former President Carter, to be published next fall by Times Books.]

If the Korean War, which began 60 years ago this past weekend, was America's forgotten war, Afghanistan has been America's ignored war....

Indeed, when the controversy over Gen. Stanley McChrystal's comments in Rolling Stone magazine erupted in the past week, one of the most surprising aspects of the story was that, for a brief moment, Americans were actually talking about Afghanistan once again. Our nation is in the middle of a war that has gone on for over nine years, but many people have not been paying attention....

What accounts for the utter lack of attention to this war?

The first factor has been the fragile state of the economy within the U.S. The severity of economic conditions since the financial crash in the fall of 2008 has naturally led citizens to focus on the health of their pocketbooks and the stability of their mortgage payments rather than on war and peace. The listless recovery that has left high rates of unemployment has means many families don't have the time or energy to pay attention to events overseas....


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