For Immediate Release
After 12 Years, 2284, 110 and an Unknown Number
WASHINGTON - On this 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Veterans For Peace calls for all troops to be brought home now. There is no reason to wait until 2014. There is no need for more loss of life. We call on the U.S. President and Congress to review the past decade and learn from our mistakes and our sins. We call on all of us to face the truth that as a nation we have lost much and gained little if anything. War has not been good for most of us. The only people who have prospered from this horror are the merchants of war and warmongers who call for more bombs and bullets at every turn. We call on the people of the nation to continue to be war wary. Continue as you did in September to reject calls for more war. No war with Syria or Iran. The rest of this decade must be one where diplomacy and peace are our tools of choice not war and death.
What is the significance of the numbers 2284 and 110? The first is the number of U.S. service members who have died in the war in Afghanistan since the start of the invasion and occupation on October 7, 2001. The second is the number of deaths so far in 2013. Both numbers are taken from the website iCasualties.org. All told, 3389 coalition forces have been killed. What about Afghans, you ask? The numbers are far from precise and pretty hard to find, but Costofwar.org estimates just over 19,000 as of February.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, or so goes the official story. I was in New York City heading to work when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. I heard about it in the office and we turned on the television in time to see the second plane hit. Sometimes I commuted to work via the PATH train from New Jersey to the WTC to catch a subway. Thankfully, that day I did not. While I did not find I felt afraid, I was depressed. I knew that hate motivated the attacks. I knew that an unspeakable evil had been unleashed on the world and it was going to get worse.
I was most concerned about how the U.S would respond. I felt depressingly sure that war would be our only response, meaning a spiral of death and carnage with no clear direction or end. I wish I had been wrong. I knew politicians would clamor for war if for no other reason than to look patriotic, strong and decisive. Yes, I expected the government to do what was necessary to stop another attack -- I also wanted those responsible to be held accountable. But I knew that war - if at all - was only part of the answer and alone would solve nothing. I doubted my country was willing to ask honest questions about why this happened. I doubted that we were willing to face the truth that as a nation we are not simply innocent victims of mad men; that in fact our government’s foreign policies, then and now, play a central role in creating our “enemies.”
So here we are, October 2013, and what do we have to show after 12 years of war? Afghanistan will more than likely return to the rule of the Taliban, al Qaeda is now a franchise with wannabes in numerous African nations, Pakistan, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, now Syria and several other places. The Global War on Terror has wasted $1.5 trillion dollars and over time will cost nearly $5 trillion. That is money which should have been used to meet human needs at home and abroad.
U.S. war-making has displaced millions of people. U.S. bullets, bombs and drones have killed tens of thousands of people and physically and mentally disfigured many more. Our government has condoned torture and now conducts mechanized assassination strikes that allow killing of people who may or may not be the intended targets. This includes women and children who were in “the wrong place at the wrong time,” like in their home living their lives.
Here in the U.S. we have an anemic economy that could use a trillion dollar investment in job creation. We have unbridled gun violence following the clear lead of our national political leaders who have shown for the last decade that they believe violence is the answer to solve conflicts. And we have soldiers who continue to die in a war without achievable aims as we kill civilians because the inertia of a superpower that has lost interests does not end war quickly. We the people can end it. We can stop the killing. We can bring our troops home.
Veterans For Peace is a national organization founded in 1985. It is structured around a national office in Saint Louis, MO and comprised of members across the country organized in chapters or as at-large members. The organization includes men and women veterans of all eras and duty stations including from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and current Iraq wars as well as other conflicts. Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.