Few of today's journalists were around in the days when lazy editors who wrote wishy-washy editorials on subjects nobody knew or cared about were held guilty of "Afghanistanism."
Of course, few of today's journalists are held to any of the standards that made journalism -- especially newspaper journalism -- a respected craft back then.
One might conclude that mainstream journalism's inadequate, inaccurate or lazy coverage of what once was called "the good war" can be attributed to their perception that most Americans don't know and don't care much about what's happening in Afghanistan.
If that were their perception, it would be only half right. While American citizens are, on the whole, the most poorly-informed and ill-educated among the world's advanced nations, and know little about that part of the world, they do care about the war there. Wherever "there" is. They tell pollsters that they'd like it to be over rather quickly.
For the most part, nobody in government is listening. The military commanders want more troops there, a lot more. The military always wants more of everything. The president is considering another option, but not one that would bring the end of the war appreciably closer. The Congress is divided along party lines, which is meaningless anyway because the Congress is controlled by the vast, private, corporate shadow government that really runs the country. What President Eisenhower called "the military-industrial complex" is by far the largest and most powerful component of the shadow government, and it sustains itself by perpetual war.
If not Cold, then hot. If not Korea, then Vietnam. If not Panama, then Granada. If not Iraq, then Afghanistan. If not Afghanistan, then Iran. Or Korea again. Bush left us with a wonderful, cover-all phrase for the perpetual war that sustains our shadow government: war on terror. Perfect! Whatever we bomb, whomever we kill, wherever we establish bases and missiles and aircraft and tanks and troops, we're waging a "war on terror." Wave the flags! Paste ribbon symbols on the SUVs! Support our troops! Round up some ragheads! Torture them, depersonalize them, don't bother charging them with anything, keep them far away from any system of law or justice! Hooray for our side!
It's so easy for the American media to "cover" terror wars. Transcribe what the generals say. Send it to the bosses back home. Hit the bar in the hotel that houses the journalists safely away from the bullets and bombs. Swap gossip and report it as truth -- as long as it reflects "glory" on the troops and their leadership. So it was our own fire that killed the football star? Cover it up, make up a hero story, who'll ever know the difference? So the bad guys simply let the captured woman warrior walk away from the hospital when she was well enough? Make up a hero story about commando raids and a defiant machine-gun toting Amazon riddling al Qaida baddies like swiss cheeses.
The flag-wavers back home lap it up.
But even the flag-wavers will tire of this war in -- where was it? Oh, yes, Afghanistan, wherever that is --as it drags on and on.
That's the exit strategy.
By then everyone inside the Beltway will agree on a reason to move the perpetual war to Iran. And the media will applaud the flawless reasoning behind this invasion. And the flags will wave again.
Always, the flags will wave.