With our national debt at $16 trillion (and our combined public and private debt at $56 trillion); with the world’s population in excess of 7 billion; with the current presidential campaign estimated to cost $6 billion, 2,000 seems like a very small number. It is the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan in what has become America’s longest war. You wouldn’t have known that from the Republican convention last week, nor from the party’s platform, which mentions the conflict only once – in a paragraph almost at the end, criticizing the Obama administration for making military decisions based on political calculations but saying nothing about what a Romney administration would do. The platform also firmly opposes the reinstatement of any form of draft, including universal service, which means that a small minority of Americans will continue to fight in our conflicts . . . which is why we do not have the protests we had when everybody’s children were eligible.
I have little hope the Democratic convention will do better. Like much else that he has faced over the last four years, Obama inherited two off-the-books military quagmires from the Bush administration. But he early on made Afghanistan his war – the 2008 party platform promised to “win in Afghanistan,” by sending in “at least two additional combat brigades.”
That was then. Now the United States is again in a war whose objective has become to bring the troops home without losing too much face. For the families we have sacrificed to that end, 2,000 is not a small number at all.