Thursday, October 13, 2011

A National Disgrace

Last Friday marked ten years of warfare in Afghanistan since we and several allies invaded that land.  The anniversary, which was preceded by the loss of billions of dollars and thousands of lives for no good reason after the successful initial attack, was largely ignored by news media and those who usually delight in claiming the spotlight.

Some Afghan protesters marched in Kabul with signs urging Americans to get out of their country. That was about it. One of our top generals said he planned no special event to mark the anniversary.  Representatives of the White House said President Obama might issue some sort of written statement, but planned no major speech and was not scheduled to participate in any commemorative events.  The usual suspects who organize American demonstrations were busy dispatching their troops to march on Wall Street protesting unfair taxation and actions, or lack of actions, by bankers and corporations.

Pundits explained that our political leaders were too busy worrying about unemployment in America to be distracted by foreign wars.  Maybe our leaders ought to consider there could be a link between the two.  The billions of dollars we are throwing away building roads, bridges, irrigation systems, and various buildings in Afghanistan would be better spent improving our crumbling infrastructure at home.  Reallocating that money would provide lots of jobs for Americans, and what they built would not be available later to benefit religious fanatics such as those who will regain control of Afghanistan after we leave.

There are connections between the war and our economic situation on more personal levels. Consider the case of U.S. Army Corporal Joseph VanDreumel, who was killed in Afghanistan in August.  Read between the lines a little.  VanDreumel was 32 years old when he joined the Army. He left behind a widow and two children, Angel, 10, and Skyler, 8. After years of steady employment in various jobs, VanDreumel was unemployed when he enlisted. Thirty-two-year-old men with families do not enlist as privates in the army if they can find any other kind of suitable employment.  I shudder imagining going through army boot camp at age 32. It was hard enough for me at 22.

Skyler VanDreumel honors his dead father (Grand Rapids Press)

My read is that VanDreumel did what he believed he had to do to support his family.  He risked, and gave, his life doing so. He was a true hero. Doesn’t anybody in power give a damn that our wrongheaded policies force people like him into such desperate situations?

“Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind . . .” Donne’s famous words apply to all of us.  That is, they apply unless you are a politician, general or admiral, or an arms manufacturer.  They, probably with a few exceptions, care not at all if others die in Afghanistan or elsewhere. And you will find none of them endangering their own lives in battle.

The current plan is to maintain troops and nation-building programs in Afghanistan at least until 2014.  You can be sure some activities financed by American taxpayers will continue after that. Why don’t we do ourselves a favor and simply get out now?  Staying there wasting our treasure while the killing goes on, and then having the national gall to ignore the whole situation on a significant anniversary, is disgraceful.


JHawk23 said...

Agreed. The fundamental point is that we have to be very careful in choosing our wars, because once we're in, they can become quagmires. I can't agree we should just up and leave, which raises questions about our staying power and is likely to result in our getting into another war sooner rather than later. But certainly, we ought not to have got into this in the first place.

AND as you say, the financial drain is enormous. I've always argued the difference between us and Europe (in terms of being able to "afford" health care for all and other things Euros take for granted) is that they spend generally 2% of GDP on defense, while we spend up to 4% in some periods. That money could be put to far better use.

Big John said...

I doubt if anyone noticed that ten years had passed here in the UK, except for those who had lost a loved one during the conflict.

When it all started our government minister in charge at the time stated that our troops "would be home without a shot being fired".

schmidleysscribblins, said...

My son who is with the Navy says they have new recruits lined up for six months, i.e. no room for them at present. The US military is the largest employer in the world. What will happen to all those kids if they lose their jobs?

Re: the Wall Street protesters crowd. Wonder if they know most of Obama's staff worked for Citibank? Also, the sponsors have an "anti-Semite" "anti-Israel" agenda/bias which I cannot abide. Most of them do not know what they want, other than debt forgiveness for college debt. They do not have a coherent message.

Yes, problems exist, but the answer does not lie in this protest I fear. Dianne

Dick Klade said...

Diane, I didn't say anything about reducing the number of enlisted military personnel. That would be an economic disaster right now. I, however, strongly advocate getting them out of places where they are being killed for no good reason.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

Dick, I can agree with that. Dianne

Dick Klade said...

A reader commented via e-mail:

Your blog about the never-ending war in Afghanistan is right on the money, as most of your blogs are. Seems to me that as time goes by, more and more segments of our society ought to have pimps for brothers so they would have someone to look up to.