Tuesday night, Romney even accused Obama of running a “campaign of division and anger and hate.” The fundamental differences between today’s Democratic and Republican parties have never been clearer.
Scant little in recent days has been said about Afghanistan — where thousands of U.S. military personnel remain deployed, and where civilians this week endured the bloodiest day thus far of 2012.
Count that as a mistake for both Obama and Romney, though it’s clear this campaign — and this election — will be decided more by the candidates’ domestic and economic views than their foreign-policy and military plans.
As Obama and Romney were crisscrossing Iowa on Tuesday, Afghanistan erupted with a spasm of Taliban-caused violence not seen this year. At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in a series of bombings in several Afghan cities. “Militants are especially trying to weaken the still-developing Afghan security forces, who are to assume control of security across their homeland in 28 months when most foreign combat troops will have left,” the Associated Press reported.
That was Tuesday. On Wednesday, nearly two dozen more Afghans were wounded in another series of bombings that threatened to derail this year’s reduction of civilian deaths. Before this latest round of violence, civilian deaths in Afghanistan had dropped 22 percent from the first six months of the previous year. (That number had been as high as 36 percent.)
Two things are playing out: (a.) the ebb-and-flow that has marked Taliban violence of recent years, and (b.) Afghan fears that these attacks will be everyday norms when U.S. troops depart by the end of 2014.
Given Afghanistan’s history as an ungovernable, if not unconquerable, mountainous nation, the expectation should be that these trends will continue as we get closer to the removal of the last American combat troops.
And, given the nature of this presidential campaign, we’ll likely have to wait until the October debates for the subject of Afghanistan — or other foreign-policy topics such as Iran, Israel or Iraq — to get substantive attention on the trail.