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Seventy-five American military service members have been killed by Afghan soldiers or policemen of the Karzai regime, 40 Americans dead at the hands of our “allies” this year alone.

We should all worry for our brave military personnel in the never ending war in Afghanistan where American dead average one per day.

For what purpose have these Americans died? At first, war aims seemed clear, the sacrifice necessary.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Afghan Taliban government refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the attack, who was sheltered there. President George Bush, with the consent of Congress, ordered the American military to invade Afghanistan, destroy al-Qaida and topple the Taliban regime.

Within a short time, bin Laden apparently escaped into Pakistan, al-Qaida was damaged and scattered but not destroyed and the Taliban regime was toppled but began a long guerrilla war against the Western alliance led by the U.S.

Today, nearly 11 years later, the aims of America’s longest war ever are missing in action. Hundreds of billions of dollars we did not have are gone. Worst of all, Americans are still dying in Afghanistan.

Last week, in a terse statement like so many these days, the Pentagon announced that PFC Shane W. Cantu of Corunna, Mich., died of shrapnel wounds on Aug. 28 in eastern Afghanistan. He was 10 years old when 9/11 happened.

Afghanistan is the “good war” President Obama supported in 2008. The war goes on, but to what end? To build a Western-style democracy in a primitive, fundamentalist, illiterate tribal society? To train an Afghan military capable of protecting the opium profits of the “President” Hamid Karzai’s family and the precious metal mines run by the Chinese?

President Obama has pledged to withdraw American troops at the end of 2014. What will be accomplished to justify American deaths between now and then? It turns out that Obama has promised Karzai that thousands of American troops will stay beyond 2014.

In retrospect, Bush should have followed his “mission accomplished” ceremony by bringing the troops home and leaving the Afghan population to decide its own future, promising that if that future included terrorism directed at us, we would be back to stop it.

Except for the grieving families and friends of our war dead, Americans today have largely turned away from this war. Puzzled by the drawn-out conflict and the lack of clear goals to justify the sacrifice of blood and treasure, feeling powerless in the face of bipartisan indifference to this ongoing tragedy, Americans have given up thinking about Afghanistan.

Today, Afghanistan has become, in the words of military historian Max Boot, the “who cares” war. For the majority of Americans not touched by the dying, the war seems hardly to be happening at all.

Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly is senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. His son, Lt. Robert M. Kelly, died in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2010.

In a recent speech, Gen. Kelly lamented that “America as a whole today is certainly not at war, not as a country, not as a people. Only a tiny fraction of American families fear all day and every day a knock at the door that will shatter their lives.”

That knock came last week for the family of Jeremie S. Border, a 28-year-old Army Special Forces staff sergeant from Mesquite, Texas.

And it came for the family of Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan P. Schmidt, 28, of Petersburg, Va. And for Marine Lance Cpl. Alec R. Terwiske, 21, of Dubois, Ind.

At the political conventions, Gov. Romney accepted his party’s nomination with a speech that did not mention Afghanistan.

One week later, President Obama, the commander in chief, accepted his party’s nomination for another term with a speech that mentioned Afghanistan once in passing, promising again to end the war at the end of 2014 and again neglecting to mention his pledge to Karzai to keep American troops in that country indefinitely beyond 2014.

Prolonged war will destroy our republic. In the meantime it will needlessly kill the best of this generation.

 

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