As a member of a family with a son in the military, I had my sense of reality twisted around last night by President Obama. When he finally got around to the two wars which eat up billions of our tax dollars and, which have killed and maimed thousands of our young men and women, he spoke as if they are just another wonderful American program for progress and peace. He mentioned 100,000 troops returned from Iraq, but forgot to mention the 50,000 who remain. He mentioned civilians who ‘will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people,’ but did not mention that they can only move about the country in a military convoy. This does not sound like a US and Iraqi peoples friendship pact to me! And many of those ‘civilians’ are in fact highly paid private industry security guards, needed for the huge embassy we all built with our tax dollars. We’re not talking about teachers and aid workers here. If, and when, we leave that devastated country, we will leave it without medical or educational or civilian infrastructure. We will leave it with millions of Iraqis homeless refugees unable to return to ethnically cleansed neighborhoods. We will leave it with millions of unemployed and angry people who cannot possibly contribute to their own security let alone ours.
And then in a few short sentences we hear about the great success of our war in Afghanistan. This is a war where it costs a million dollars to keep one American soldier there for one year. When our military leaders say the war is not going well in Afghanistan, why do our political leaders tell us otherwise? We have more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. You would never know from President Obama’s speech that many are the same troops that were taken out of Iraq. We can’t win this war and we can’t afford it. We can’t even afford to take care of the desperately wounded veterans returning with limbs blown off and minds in chaos. Meanwhile Afghan women have the second highest rate of death from childbirth of any place on earth. Instead of ‘shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity,’ we deliver misery and death.
Believe me, President Obama those of us with loved ones involved in these wars know that they will never end except in bankruptcy, financial and moral. We know at the personal level what the 23% unemployment rate for returning troops feels like. That deep knowledge of a lie when you hear one, will only grow until you and Congress have the honesty to admit it is not Medicare and Medicaid which is driving up the debt we are leaving to our families, it is open ended, never ending war and preparation for war.
MFSO Board Member