Afghanistan: our “new” war

Is the war in Afghanistan being reinvented?

After eight years, 857 dead U.S. troops and unknown thousands of dead civilians, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, leader of 68,000 American and 100,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, has requested 40,000 more troops to the region. Amidst an unexpected burgeoning of the Taliban insurgency, President Barack Obama is now squarely reassessing his options for this eerily silent U.S. war. The American people may be staring down the barrel of a âÄúnew warâÄù in Afghanistan, complete with more troops, more blowback and higher death tolls. The war has never formally ended since troops first arrived in October 2001, but inasmuch as policy is determined by domestic psychology, some potent developments have transformed collective perceptions of the bloodshed in the Middle East. A new president presents a fresh face as commander in chief. If the Bush administrationâÄôs failed âÄúhandling of the war on terrorâÄù was as distasteful to Americans as polls suggest, a new âÄúhandlerâÄù may bring collective acceptance to a broader war despite simultaneously strong public support for withdrawal. In a linguistically Orwellian about-face, the name by which Americans knew the past eight years of conflict has been officially banished by an Obama administration striving to distance itself from the follies of George W. Bush. The page may have turned on the âÄúwar on terror,âÄù but a whole new chapter on Afghanistan is being written. More than 220 American troops have died in Afghanistan so far this year — more than during the warâÄôs first four years combined. Afghanistan could be ObamaâÄôs Iraq, making him a wartime president, but only if a thorough reinvention of public perceptions takes hold.