While we were sleeping in Iraq, a war re-ignited in Afghanistan.

Late last week, the resurgent Taliban attacked a prison in Kandahar, freeing 400 insurgent fighters.

Since then, a Taliban force has massed in an area near where the prison is. The Associated Press reported the fighting is the latest display of strength by the militants associated with the Taliban — the former ruling regime of Afghanistan prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

Once the Taliban was overthrown and chased into the mountains in the southern part of the country, U.S. president George Bush turned his attention — and the attention of the military — to the invasion of Iraq. That conflict consumed the American public’s attention and the war in Afghanistan fell out of view.

If we’ll all stop to recall, the terrorist organization al-Qaida that engineered the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, was based in Afghanistan.

The search for the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, still centers on that area in the mountains.

So why have we quit paying attention? Perhaps because since then we’ve focused on our own issues at home, or because our political leaders have assumed that war finished because we rousted the Taliban from power.

History suggests we pay closer attention to the first stage of the war on terror, unless we learn the same lesson the Soviets did — war in Afghanistan never ends.

It will be on the winner of the November election to take a special interest in that country and to come up with a solution for shifting more focus on the conflict there. It could be critical to national security.

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