American troops recently suffered their biggest loss in Afghanistan in over a year. Raided by hundreds of men armed with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, eight of our boys died in the attack. Any time I read the sobering news out of Afghanistan, I ask was it worth a young man’s life? I have quite a few acquaintances who are fighting this War on Terror, so I take it personally when our troops are killed. For all I know, it could be one of my buddies.
I was having a few beers with a Marine once who told me Afghanistan is the most dangerous battleground a solider can currently fight on. Apparently Iraq has been reduced to a walk in the park. I’ve learned that military personnel feel safer being deployed to Iraq than Afghanistan; that ever since we found Saddam in that hole, the terrorist war effort has been funneled in a new direction.
Even President Obama has us convinced it’s Afghanistan — not Iraq — that is now the central front on terrorism. And he could be right if this string of attacks on our troops is any indication. But this has been an eight-year war — eight years gone with what to show? Are we any safer or in any better of a position than when we declared war?
Sadly, I can’t even tell you what our servicemen are dying for in the War on Terror. We’ve been fighting for words and concepts: democracy, freedom, liberty, etc. But what is this war truly about? I’ve heard plenty of theories, but never an absolute truth. This is turning into a real version of the book “Johnny Got His Gun.”
I support our troops, but I will always find it difficult to support war. There is a significant distinction between people and ideologies, an observation easy to lose sight of. The brave men and women who defend our country deserve all the respect and admiration we can give them. But when they’re off fighting an ill-planned battle against an elusive, well-trained enemy, supporting the war becomes something of a challenge. It’s not that our troops’ efforts in Afghanistan are for naught. Quite the contrary, I suppose. It just seems at times that we’re feeding the ol’ war machine, while plenty of good men and women die on the battlefield.
When do we admit we are slowly losing ground in Afghanistan? Obama is making this suggestion by calling for additional troop increases, but he’s yet to formally recognize the catastrophic position the United States has put itself in. We are so deeply embedded we cannot back out until the final cease-fire. Do we even have a plan anymore?
We need to get our priorities straight. Defense is an important aspect of our national budget, indeed. So is education and public infrastructure and libraries. Many of us fail to see the correlation between wanton spending on defense and cutbacks on everything else. We need to consider our options here, even if it means taking a slight loss on the Afghanistan front. We need to focus on our own wars at home.
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