Why is the United States contemplating another 10 year stint in Afghanistan?

afghanistanOn November 20th of this year, NBC news published a story that got little air time. You might have missed it with Zimmerman getting arrested and all; but according to a draft of a key U.S. – Afghan security, deal American forces could remain in Afghanistan until 2024. To add to my frustration, this agreement seems to be something the US is in favor of and is pressuring Karzai to sign.

Speaking personally as a veteran, this is unacceptable, abhorrent, disgusting and every other negative adjective I can come up with. This agreement must not be signed because the cost of such an agreement greatly outweighs anything the United States would gain.

What possible purpose could it serve? How would it benefit the men and women of the United States? Is this supposed to help us “win” the war on terror? Are you serious President Obama? 

Let’s weigh the cost of keeping troops in Afghanistan. First, we need to start with what we’ve paid so far as a nation so we know where to begin our balance. In case you’re wondering, I’m not going to even skim the cost of treasure we have expended in Afghanistan. In my opinion, it’s just money, and lives are far more precious.

To date, since 2001 we have lost 2,292 men and women in Afghanistan during combat operations. That’s 2,292 flag-draped coffins; 2,292 funerals; 2,292 families that will have a void forever. There are 2,292 empty place settings this Thanksgiving that will never be filled. There are 2,292 homes where Christmas will never be the same.

How many sons and daughters will never get to share the joy of graduation or the excitement of their prom because of those 2,292 flag-draped coffins? How many children, wives, husbands, mothers and fathers will carry those 2,292 flags which they received for the rest of their lives? If you asked any of them if the price was worth what it cost them, what do you think they would say?

The next number on our tally is 17,674. That’s how many wounded American forces there have been in Afghanistan. That’s the blood of 17,674 men and women. It’s the shattered bones, missing arms and legs, horrific burns, destroyed spines, missing eyes and every other horror that war can inflict on the human body which does not kill you.

As of December 2011, there have been 2,293 Active Duty Suicides Since January 2001 and 462,854 Total Calls to VA’s Veterans Crisis Line (Suicide Hotline). Look at those numbers again. As of 2010, we had lost one more personnel to suicide than have been killed in combat operations as of 2013. How on earth do you calculate that cost? Can we say it was worth it from what we have gained? In my opinion, the answer is no.

AfghanistanSo what’s our tally so far? 4,585 dead and 17,674 wounded. That’s our starting balance if we continue to pursue this continuation agreement and I’m not even including PTSD. 

What will the cost be by 2024? More importantly, why on earth would we continue to write these checks using our sons and daughters as collateral? Who gains? Not the American people. 

So far the war on terror has gutted our constitution, eroded our rights and has thrown a blanket over the shining light of freedom which the US had represented in the world. Our people are spied on, our every communication sifted and saved, we submit to unreasonable searches and extreme paranoia when we travel.

We have abandoned our founding principles of due process and to be judged by a jury of our peers. We have expanded the range and scope of government so much that even those that are charged with overseeing our national security have no idea what the hell is going on or who is a “target” of the NSA’s investigations. 

The only people that have profited from the last decade of war have been the government contractors and those that profit from pain and suffering. Those profits have been paid for by every single American and our nation has been reduced to a near police state. Yet, there are those in Washington who seriously and deliberately want to continue these operations in Afghanistan for another decade. That is a truly disgusting and offensive.

When is the cost too high? Who will decide one day that we have “won” the war on the tactic of terrorism? More importantly, what will be the criteria that decide’s once and for all that we will no longer willingly sacrifice the best of us for that cause?

If you really want to declare once and for all that we have won the war on terrorism, repeal the Patriot Act, relinquish the power to ignore the Fourth Amendment. Let us keep our shoes on before we get on a plane. Quit filling the coffers of corporations for the purpose of providing the American people with a flimsy illusion of security and give us back our freedom. Above all else, step forward and explain to the American people exactly why it is important to continue waging an un-winnable war.

If we want to keep troops in Afghanistan for the purpose of keeping an eye on our “ally” Pakistan, then just say so and let us have an open discussion about it.

However, if there are some who believe we should keep troops in Afghanistan so we can win their hearts and minds and prevent another attack like 9/11, their goal is unrealistic and unobtainable. We’re talking about a country that has been invaded time and time again since before Christ and is still the seat of anarchy.

We’re talking about trying to westernize a country in which the tribal elders hold grudges for generations. A country in which the tribal elders had to pass laws to keep their men from having sex with their goats. It’s legal and encouraged to beat your wife and having sex with children has mixed reviews. They don’t want a goddamn Starbucks on every corner and all the processed meat they can eat from the YUM! Corporation.

If the goal is to help the American people sleep at night; don’t worry, they’ll sleep just fine. As for us, we would sleep better if more Americans had jobs and our infrastructure, education and healthcare systems weren’t falling apart.

I was honored to serve my country for twenty years. I didn’t do it for baseball, apple pie or the American dream. I did it because I knew that each and every day I woke up and helped perform the mission, someone had a better chance of coming home. I did it for the Grunts, Ditch Diggers and Airedales that were in country and needed our protection from above. I did it because somewhere out there, a group of men had grown to become brothers and I wanted each of them to come home without survivor’s guilt. 

I didn’t do it because of the little yellow plastic ribbons that were made in China and slapped on every car, or the gracious thanks I would receive from strangers for my service. I did it for the men and women I would never meet who needed me to do what I was trained to do so that they could come home. I did it for them. I did it for their husbands and wives. I did it for their parents and their children, and I would do it all over again without a moment’s hesitation. But I do NOT want their children to have to do it too.

Frankly speaking, the cost of staying in Afghanistan is too goddamn high. Bring our men and women home.

Afghanistan

Originally from the Florida Keys; I’m now a retired Sailor with 20 years of honorable service under my belt. I've seen the world from the decks of aircraft carries and stood on the shores of more than a dozen countries. I have hauled the lines of freedom and weighed the cost of liberty. I am an environmentalist, a life-long student, and an outdoors-man. While I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember for personal pleasure, I became a professional writer in 2008, a few years prior to my retirement from active duty. I like to refer to myself as a POMEL. A Proud, Opinionated, Militant, Educated, Liberal and I can hit an argument with the right facts to win the fight.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Personally, I do not think the goal here has anything to do with terrorism or hearts and minds or selling trinkets to the natives. As Frank points out, these things do not justify the cost of this endeavor. It is doubtful that the profits to the war marketeers has much to do with it; that is just ‘collateral profit’. So what is going on? Assume that the people that are engaged in this are not stupid because they are not. So what is going on? This is just the price of being ‘Top Dog’.

    Many, many people see this goal as fundamentally important, especially as resources increase in practical value. Oil, water, copper, among other things. That means food, transportation, among other things. So, is the ability to survive as we ‘negotiate’ for these things in the future important? I see nothing else that makes sense when looking at our ‘involvements’ around the world, as Frank has noted. This makes sense and maybe it is worth the price. It is certainly worth talking about.

    It is very clear that with today’s technology and what we can reasonably imagine in the future, the worlds population cannot have the same standard of living as has the ‘developed world.’ This is going to result in a certain ‘friction’ between those that have and those that have not. So, in this context, is the price worth it or not? Big Question. I suggest we move the dialog in this direction and forget about the ‘terrorist’ nonsense; this is just the beginning of the conflict. People are going to be ‘upset’, who cares. Who is going to win, that is the question, that is what we are fighting over. This makes sense, nothing else makes any sense at all to me.

  2. Never forget the price of the rent on Afghanistan included not only the suicide of veterans but also the suicides of grieving children of parents serving there.

Leave a Comment