Victor Davis Hanson

It is a busy time in America. The Major League Baseball playoffs are competing with the upcoming midterm elections for the public's attention. The rescue of courageous miners in Chile has for a time overshadowed even the latest psychodramas of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

There is endemic fear among Americans that continual $1 trillion-plus annual deficits and near-10 percent unemployment are about to destroy the vaunted American standard of living. Who has time to worry about much else?

Yet, that said, we have been sleeping through three major wars that will soon wake us up.

This summer, Americans were dying in combat in Afghanistan at rates not seen since the summer of 2007 in Iraq. In congressional hearings that year, furious legislators grilled Gen. David Petraeus and cited the high number of monthly combat deaths to prematurely declare his surge a failure. Moveon.org ran ads calling Petraeus a traitor ("General Betray Us") for continuing the war amid such losses.

No such furor surrounds Afghanistan. Yet more Americans have been killed so far this year in Afghanistan than during the entire six years of fighting there from 2001 through 2006. U.S. combat fatalities in Afghanistan in just the first 19 months of the Obama administration exceeded U.S. combat fatalities in Afghanistan in eight years under George W. Bush.

This depressing news warrants little commentary in the mainstream media but surely raises vital questions of national security. Why has the so-called "good war" suddenly heated up at precisely the same time American combat operations in the "bad war" in Iraq are largely over?

Are casualties spiking because of the surge of American troops, as once happened in 2007 in Iraq? Or has the enemy stepped up the offensive in hopes that announced American troop withdrawals mean victory is on the horizon?

Does President Obama plan to win, or is he willing to concede the war with the Taliban? Does the media fear that depressing coverage of Afghanistan will damage this administration in the way daily headlines of violence from Iraq nearly destroyed the prior one?

Meanwhile, almost imperceptibly, the United States has been waging a full-scale Predator drone war again suspected al-Qaeda terrorists inside Pakistan. This year alone, we have conducted more than twice as many air strikes inside Pakistan as in the eight years from 2001 through 2008. Indeed, in just the first two years of the Obama administration, we have killed more than 1,000 suspected terrorists, along with some civilians, inside Pakistan -- or more than double the number taken out by airstrikes during the entire Bush administration.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.