Friday 31 August 2012

The dangers of public apathy

Writing in the WSJ this week, Max Boot calls Afghanistan the "Who Cares?" War. He cites the fact that Rajiv Chandrasekaran' new book on the war, Little America, published two months ago, has only sold around 5,000 copies in hardcover. By comparison, Chandrasekaran's book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, about the Iraq War, sold more than 120,000 copies in hardback and paperback.
Boot also points to Obama's silence on the war - and that of his political opponents - and to the polls showing more than 60 per cent of Americans are against the war, even if they don't want to go out on the streets and protest. As the Presidential election approaches that silence is set to become deafening.
The same phenomenon is evident in the UK, where there is a public silence and absence of debate on the war itself, although public demonstrations of affection for fallen soldiers have become enshrined in emotional ceremonies outside the airbases to which their remains are repatriated. Wootton Bassett, the small town close to one of the bases, was renamed Royal Wootton Bassett last year in recognition of the devotion its citizens have shown to the fallen.
At the same time, no-one talks about why the troops are in Afghanistan, what they are doing or what they are hoping to achieve. TV news coverage is generally limited to spectacular atrocities or troop losses. No national newspaper in the UK is anywhere near giving its readers a clear picture of what is happening in the country or surrounding region. There is a silence on the fact that we are supporting a corrupt, anti-democratic government that will only last as long as it is propped up by foreign troops.
Despite all this, Boot says that public apathy may be good in that it will allow the Americans to keep up to 30,000 troops in Afghanistan indefinitely without any domestic opposition and that this will allow the job in hand - whatever that is - to be completed. More likely that the war - never talked about, never scrutinised - will become dirtier, less effective and even more directionless than it is at present.

1 comment:

davidbfpo said...

How about this Tweet: Interesting that Clint Eastwood got a thunderous cheer from GOP faithful when he suggested pulling all US troops out of Afghanistan now.

Not that the Republican Party faithful are a representative sample of the US public.