At least 69% of Americans think the U.S. should not be in Afghanistan, according to a recent NYT/CBS poll. The longest-serving Republican member of Congress, Florida's Bill Young, has reversed course on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, and is now calling for a troop withdrawal. As Rachel Maddow put it on Thursday's The Rachel Maddow Show, there's a "responsible debate to be had here over the longest war in American history." So why is only one presidential candidate talking about it?
National security issues featured heavily in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and debates, when the United States was at war with both Afghanistan and Iraq. "We're still not quite as consumed by those issues but we are still in one of those wars," Maddow said, and "Romney has generally done his best to avoid the subject altogether."
The Republican candidate's silence on Afghanistan is particularly deafening this week, thanks to a military report today that gives President Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan an "F."
Since the beginning of the troop surge, which ended last week, the number of both enemy-initiated attacks and "executed IED attacks" (bombings) has increased. Those numbers did not drop to pre-surge levels after the surge's conclusion. "Afghan troops are turning around and killing American troops they're supposed to be working with," Maddow summarized, before questioning why it's not more of a campaign issue if "things after the surge are worse than before the surge."
"Does the Republican party have a competing idea? Nobody knows," said Maddow. With 40 days left until the election, "veterans have to be more than just an applause line."