THE PLANK DECEMBER 2, 2009
Over the past few months, all eyes have been on Afghanistan, with the long policy review culminating in Obama’s speech last night. What that means is that Iraq, that other war, often seems like an afterthought in our national discussion. (Nevermind that we still have 124,000 troops on the ground there.)
In light of all this, we thought it might be interesting to see just how many times Obama has used the word “Iraq” (and derivations like “Iraqi”) since being inaugurated, as compared to his usage of “Afghanistan” (also including “Afghan” and “Afghani”). After going through the president’s official speeches, remarks, and weekly addresses, we found the results to be slightly surprising.
All in all, “Afghanistan” was used 61 more times than “Iraq”: 444 to 383. That’s certainly not a huge difference. Early in the year, it went back and forth based on events. In February, Obama announced his plan for the drawdown in Iraq; in March he outlined the first iteration of his new Afghanistan strategy; in May he met with Afghan President Karzai and Pakistani President Zardari; and in April and July he spent time with Prime Minister Maliki. But as the summer doldrums set in, and the tea partiers hit the town hall circuit, Obama’s plate simply seems to have grown too crowded for Iraq. His mentions of the war have remained low and predictably so over the past few months as Obama has focused on health care, jobs, Afghan policy, and don’t forget the Olympics. So unless events in Iraq dictate otherwise--and let’s hope not--count on mum staying the word. (Click on the graph to open in Excel)