This was widely reported on or around Memorial Day. Typical coverage was like THIS.
I'll cut right to the chase on this one: why are we there? Do we honestly think we are bringing democracy to a people to which the concept is alien? Do we think that somehow we are "getting them" before they "get us"?
I think the extended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been both enormous failures. What's more, and this will sound very harsh (but so be it), but the life on just one American service member is too high a price, let alone the thousands that have already died. I have no idea what the total count of brave service members who have died is, but anything over 1 is too high.
People have given their lives because they were honor and duty bound to follow orders. There is no shame in that, and if anything we need to honor these fallen service even more for their sacrifices, as the people in Afghanistan and Iraq no doubt could care less. No, the shame lies in the two Presidential administrations now that have either started or continued these efforts.
I'm not going to engage in all manner of conspiracy theory bullshit over why President Bush chose to start these wars. That doesn't matter in the context of honoring the dead and calling for this insanity to end. I'm also not going to speculate why President Obama hasn't acted forcefully to end this madness...well at least not in this time and space, as I lack the mental energy. Instead I am going to say that both have played geo-political games with the lives of Soldiers and Marines (and Pilots, Sailors, and anyone else I forget). Enough already! We have a limited supply of brave Marines and other heroes, so maybe it's about time we stopped wasting them.
At the beginning of this post I posed a series of questions, a kind of writer-trick if you will that probably incorrectly deploy far too often. In a break from my normal practice I'm going to actually answer the questions as a kind of coda to this extended thought.
Q: Why are we there?
A: Honestly, I don't think we even know any more, which is incredibly sad.
Q: Do we honestly think we are bringing democracy to a people to which the concept is alien?
A: Some may think it, but it is a mistake. Religiously, culturally, and by any other "ly" you can think of, these are not people who want democracy. What's more, democracy is one of those things whereby if you have to ram it down some one's throat, then you are missing the point. If they want democratic institutions in Iraq and Afghanistan, then let those peoples rise up and demand them.
Q: Do we think that somehow we are "getting them" before they "get us"?
A: Some do, but the thought is absurd. We can obliterate any terrorist training camp from 60,000 feet if we simply chose to.
1,000 dead American soldiers in Afghanistan, and we have precisely what to show for it?