It’s been almost eight years since al-Qaida operatives struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, killing about 3,000 Americans. As painful as it was — and as painful as it remains for those intimately affected by the atrocity — the country has largely moved on. Given Americans’ short historical memories, eight years is a long time.
That helps explain why 51 percent of Americans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC poll, don’t believe the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting. Only 24 percent believe the number of troops should be increased.
In addition to the passage of time, there is another big factor in dwindling support for the war in Afghanistan: The invasion of Iraq. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney spent much more time demonizing Saddam Hussein than they did emphasizing the role of the Taliban and Afghanistan in the attacks. The Taliban provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and along its mountainous border with Pakistan.And it was Osama who orchestrated the attacks.
But the Bush administration gave little effort to helping Americans understand the connection between Afghanistan and the 9/11 attacks. After the invasion of Iraq, Bush and Cheney stopped talking about Osama bin Laden.
If the Bush administration had concentrated on finding Osama and driving out the Taliban, Afghanistan might be stable by now. But they allowed Osama to get away while they shifted troops to Iraq.
Osama is still out there. Al-Qaida is still plotting attacks on U.S. interests. The Taliban is still a danger to Afghanistan, Pakistan and to us. The Obama administration has no choice but to stay in Afghanistan until the Taliban is routed.