Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Wounded Army. A Wounded Nation.

Listening to NPR yesterday afternoon while running errands I heard part of a story about a soldier. I missed the lead-in but I did hear the soldier say something like "to pull out, to ask these guys to quit after all they've done. It would destroy the Army just like it did after Vietnam." That thought has stayed with me since. The soldier is right, of course. To simply say "oops, we don't need what you've died for", is a crushing blow. But when the alternative is to destroy the country with endless war that does absolutely nothing to keep this nation safe, then I must choose my my country. If our Army is truly strong, it will survive. It came back after Vietnam.

But the crime is done. The Army has been butt-fucked. Men and women were and are sent to kill and be killed in a war on false premises. Profits for contractors, access and opportunity for Big Oil. A geo-strategic mission for economic gain and political hegemony. Rather than defend America against terrorists, US forces have ended up mostly defending themselves against local insurgents and killing enough civilians in the process to create greater anger at the "foreign infidels." Sacrifice aplenty but to no useful end. What might in 2002-03 have led to some resolution in Afghanistan was sidetracked to Iraq. Afghanistan became a forgotten war while Cheney and Bush played out their military fantasies,grinding down service men and women with repeated deployments .

Now it's 2010 and America is still in Afghanistan, that war no longer forgotten. We begin our 9th year in October, bogged down beyond belief, in a region more unstable and violent as the consequence of our presence. After years of inattention that allowed Afghanistan to further descend into factional violence, the US would do well to end the occupation and the Army would do well to follow that order,however difficult. Absent our forces, little that occurs in Afghanistan would affect this nation. The few threats from Afghanistan that could possibly affect America can be dealt with far more effectively than with ground forces.

No matter how ending the war might affect the military, ending the war is the only sustainable, long-term policy. The sooner we learn that, the better this nation and the world will be. It's a hard lesson, though. The Soviets took nine years to learn. It looks like the US will take longer. In the meantime, more and more Americans and Afghanis will be among those who died for a mistake.

Like I said. The crime is done. Blood flows.

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