November 25, 2013
With the recent announcement that our nation has agreed to extend the Afghanistan War another decade, I just had to express my trepidation concerning America’s longest armed conflict. Why is it that World War I lasted only four years and World War II just six, yet the Afghanistan War has now entered its twelfth year, and will last at least another ten? Does anyone really believe the confrontation will end at that time for the Afghan people as the Taliban and al-Qaeda continue the fight for control of that nation? It was also not long ago that Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated that if warfare started between the U.S. and Pakistan, most likely due to the numerous drone missile attacks ongoing in that nation, his country would take sides with their neighbor. I find this statement incredible considering it is our military might that keep him in power.
One of the goals always stated is the need to train the Afghan troops. We educate our military officers in four years and train our enlisted men and women in two months, yet we have been training the Afghan army for a dozen years now and further training is still required. This just does not make sense. We should have trained the Afghan army’s trainers and then let them train themselves. Afghanistan has a very long history of armed conflict, and is known as the graveyard of empires for its fighting capabilities. Maybe they should be training us. During the past thirty years, America has been involved in some sort of military encounter in twenty-three of them. This is astonishing. The Iraq War, when it “officially” ended for America was this nation’s longest, has turned into a catastrophe for the Iraqi people. Every day, it seems there is another car bombing or three resulting in the deaths of three or four dozen innocent people. Do we really expect better results in Afghanistan?
In my writings, I always like to quote former president and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower, who in his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, America should have listened. Instead, during the past three decades America has become the world’s most war-mongering nation. War is big business and the only way the military-industrial complex stays in business and remains profitable is by this nation engaging in war. Is this really the business America wants to be in? For all of our numerous military skirmishes, what exactly have we accomplished? As a nation, we live in constant fear of another September 11th attack; all the while, we are despised by much of the world.
I, for one, am disgusted by not only the loss of life, but also that of the cost and destruction that war brings. It is abhorrent that twenty-two veterans are committing suicide every single day. More veterans have committed suicide than died in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. War is hell is the old proverb. These two statistics obviously prove this aphorism right. A recent study by the University of Southern California found that teenagers who have a parent serving multiple wartime deployments have a higher risk of suicide than their peers do. I always find it incredibly ironic that America can go to war at a moments notice with not a single thought as to the cost, yet country music singer Trace Adkins has to beg Americans via commercials to donate money for the Wounded Warrior Project, to help our injured soldiers when they come home. This is horrendous.
Coming of age during the Vietnam War, I grew up watching the horror of war on television as Walter Cronkite reported each week the casualty figures, a conflict that resulted in the deaths of more than 58,000 Americans and has been estimated to have killed as many as 3,000,000 Vietnamese, 300,000 Cambodians and 200,000 Laotians. Because of all the anti-war demonstrations that filled the airwaves during that horrific conflict, I never imagined that this nation would become involved in another war, let alone become perpetually engaged in warfare during my lifetime. All those peace and love hippie baby boomers turned out to be just as sadistic as their parents. It is time to stop this madness!
Steven H. Spring