American Apathy with Wars
When U.S. forces launched the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, they were riding a wave of anger and a call for justice by a broad swath of the American public. The Pew Research Center says the initial support for the Afghan invasion was around 90 percent.
In 2001 and 2002, about 40 percent of the public said they were following news about Afghanistan very closely. From 2009 to 2011, that number had fallen to 25 percent, with the pattern in Iraq the same.
Army Col. Matthew Moten, a professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, says it’s unrealistic to sustain public interest on any issue year after year.
“I think that the public has other issues on its mind, collectively — namely the economy, jobs, the problems with the federal deficit and debt,” he says. “And those seem to be trumping concerns about the war for most of the populace.”
But it’s not just the public that has lost focus on the wars. Many cash-strapped news organizations have scaled back or even eliminated their coverage. And the two conflicts barely cause a ripple on the campaign trail, especially among Republican presidential candidates.
Christopher Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, senses public frustration over the limited achievements after years of war, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, and the loss of more than 6,000 U.S. service personnel.