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US voters ignore war issue

“I think we've got to end that war in Afghanistan,” former Army Green Beret Tommy Sowers shouted as he balanced a large American flag on his shoulder at the Hootin’ and Hollarin' parade. “We've been there too long.”

world Updated: Oct 14, 2010 02:49 IST

“I think we've got to end that war in Afghanistan,” former Army Green Beret Tommy Sowers shouted as he balanced a large American flag on his shoulder at the Hootin’ and Hollarin' parade. “We've been there too long.”

Popular indifference has become a defining feature of the nation's near-decade at war, and is also Sowers's biggest enemy on the campaign trail three weeks before the midterm elections. Very few Americans — about one in 20 — said war is the country's most pressing issue when in a poll last month.

Troops, their families, and their superiors say that their sacrifices are poorly understood. “For most Americans, the wars remain an abstraction — a distant and unpleasant series of news items that do not affect them personally,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates lamented in a recent speech. Military service, he said, has “become something for other people to do.”

Retired Col. Chris Gibson, who ran for Congress as a Republican in Upstate New York, recently called for a declaration of war on Al Qaeda.

“When the people's representatives have to go on record and vote, it transforms our country,” said Gibson, who supports the troop increase in Afghanistan. “It is a full recognition that we are in a state of war.” .

For additional content from The Washington Post, visit www.washingtonpost.com

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