Iraq has been making Afghanistan disappear from the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Although the Department of Defense recently disbursed nearly $500 million dollars to transport additional troops to Afghanistan, we did not hear a peep about it.
Instead, the debate over invading Iraq has seemingly made Americans forget all about Afghanistan.
According to the Defense Department, troops are still stationed in Afghanistan to assist in nation building and to hunt down the remnants of Al-Qaeda.
In a recent speech, President Bush said the mission in Afghanistan was “to help people recover from living under years of tyranny and oppression” and to help them “gain their democratic nature.”
This talk has been backed up by America deploying additional troops to Afghanistan.
The Defense Department’s Web site notes that nearly 1000 additional soldiers were sent to Afghanistan in the last eight weeks to support the 7000 already there.
Normally, an increase in U.S. military presence in a country by more than 10 percent would be big news, but mention of this has been limited.
The potential war with Iraq has pushed news of Afghanistan out of television and print, to the point where the vast majority of CNN reporting on Afghanistan has been limited to a flashing ticker at the bottom of the screen.
Despite the hawk troika of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Rice, the U.S. military is still our military, and the people of this country deserve to know what their military is up to.
They are currently conducting operations in countries all over the globe, such as serving as “advisors” to the Filipino army and fighting unreported battles with warlords in the Hindu Kush.
But word of these battles rarely makes it home.
When it does, it lingers in the news for a day or two, and is replaced by the newest congressional talk of ways to wage war on Iraq without actually declaring war.
The U.S. military rarely leaves a country once it has arrived.
Guantanamo Bay still serves as an American base in Cuba.
Newly enlisted soldiers regularly find themselves killing time in Germany or South Korea before being shipped to the Middle East.
There are nearly as many U.S. troops stationed in NATO nations as there are non-U.S. NATO troops.
More than 20 years after Vietnam, ships belonging to our navy are still patrolling the Tonkin Straits.
Since the administrations of both Bush Sr. and Clinton carried on America’s legacy of global policing, in places as diverse as Panama, Kuwait, Bosnia and the Philippines, odds are that Iraq won’t be the last war President Bush engages in.
Will Iraq disappear from the newspaper once American troops land in Colombia or Indonesia?
As American soldiers come closer to marching on Baghdad, last year’s war with Afghanistan has been pushed to the sidelines.
Yet we can’t forget that American troops are still in Afghanistan to help stabilize the notoriously unstable country.
In other words, U.S. troops are in Afghanistan for the long haul.
There is no reason for the media to pretend that they aren’t.
Neal Ungerleider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org