The War in Afghanistan, called "Operation Enduring Freedom" is a puzzling war.
In the first place it is a war not with Afghanistan, but in Afghanistan. The conflict is seen as a response to the harboring of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks by the Taliban and as a means of securing freedom from further attacks by parties hidden in or supported by the Taliban. To make matters more complicated, Al Qaeda has also found support and hiding places in Pakistan making the war not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan. So in the end it is about our enduring freedom, not the enduring freedom of either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
The war is also enduring in that it is the core of the "war on terror," a seemingly unending war fought without borders, without reference finally to states, without end. And yet, it is a war that liberals and conservatives alike find difficult to criticise because it is the actual war against the perpetrators of the attacks on us.
So today when I heard that the predictions are that the war in Afghanistan was likely to be very costly at least for another two years I came back to look at the numbers from iCasualties lists. Here is how it has gone:
Coalition Military Fatalities By Year
Looking forward then, we are facing two more years in which something like 140 US Military will die in Afghanistan each year. If there are withdrawals of other Coalition forces perhaps more. This will mean we will have lost well over 1000 members of the military in this war.
The question is, where is the debate on the future of this conflict, its relation to the "war on terror" and what would count as a basis for ending the war? There is some out there in the secular press and radio, but where in the life and concerns of the Church?