Entering 10th year, Columbia residents react to war in Afghanistan

Friday, October 8, 2010 | 5:18 p.m. CDT; updated 5:36 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 9, 2010
Thursday marks the ninth anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan. As Americans prepares for their 10th year of fighting, many people at home have grown weary of the lengthy fight against terrorism. There are more than 90,000 troops still in Afghanistan.

COLUMBIA — Greer Relphorde, an MU sophomore, reminisced about her high school experience while walking to her geology lecture Wednesday afternoon.

The day marked the tenth year since American troops entered Afghanistan, but the war was the last thing on Relphorde's mind.

"I think I am more familiar with Iran than Afghanistan," Relphorde said.

Oct. 6, 2010 marked the beginning of the tenth year of combat in Afghanistan. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan constitute America's longest continuous combat engagement. Over one million Americans have served in the two wars.

Relphorde knew that we have been Afghanistan for nine years, but she admitted that she does not follow the latest war information. Relphorde isn't alone, though — many Americans are spending more time thinking about the economy and health care reform than the war in Afghanistan, according to a report by the PEW Research Center.

The center reports during the week of Sept. 20-26, only 13 percent of Americans were following the war in Afghanistan "more closely than any other story" and 29 percent were following the situation "very closely". In contrast, 43 percent of respondents said they followed news of the economy "very closely," with 23 percent naming the topic as that they followed most closely.

Dr. Stephen Quackenbush, an MU professor whose research focuses on international conflict, said that the lack of attention is understandable.

"There are things that are impacting people's everyday lives — the economy — so it doesn't occupy our primary attention," Quackenbush said.

World War II, in contrast, was a popular war that stayed in people's minds because it had an effect on their day-to-day lives, Quackenbush said.

"They had meatless Tuesdays, or they worked in a factory making tanks," Quackenbush said. "They felt the effects everyday." 

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