It’s Time to Get Angry About Afghanistan

David Petraeus and Leon Panetta: A new way in Afghanistan?

Women have always been the feistiest of warriors when need be. Now, says Michele Willens, we are needed again

A lot is happening with regards to Afghanistan: CIA guy Leon Panetta is going to the Department of Defense and military god David Petraeus is going to the CIA. And now we have the death of Osama Bin Laden, which momentarily satisfies a sense of vengeance. What does all that mean as we enter the spring of our tenth year of that doomed and futile conflict? Probably nothing in the remotely immediate future. Speaking for myself, I am more interested in the ten American officers who were shot and killed one day last week while attending meetings in Kabul.

I feel like I have awakened from a ten year coma.

Make that a thirty year coma, as that was the last time I actively spoke out and protested against the insanity of modern day warfare. Then, well, you know — one goes on to a career and marriage and children, and priorities go elsewhere. Not to mention, they got rid of the draft that would now be affecting my 18 year old son. So why aren’t I shouting and writing and marching anymore? If not for me, then for the families of the almost 1500 American soldiers who have died and the 11,000 who have been injured? It’s a question a lot of us bloated boomers should be asking ourselves.

I think mostly about women, since we instinctively have understood the folly of grown people duking it out and the arrogant presumption of one country (ours) barging in uninvited. We appreciate the emotional repercussions of losing the boy we once held in our arms.

One of my first summer jobs was volunteering for an organization called Another Mother (I wasn’t one yet) For Peace. The beautiful actress Donna Reed was one of the founders of the group whose poster that proclaimed, “War is not healthy for children and other living things” became a familiar fixture during the heated Vietnam years. Where are those mothers today? Was our outrage simply about keeping those close to us safe at home?

Women have always been the feistiest of warriors when need be. We “manned” the home front during World War II (otherwise known as the last good war.) We were important and effective voices against the bad war of the ‘60s. Now, we are needed again.

I want to start a group called BAR. (Boomer Activists Reunite.) Requirements for membership? One must be prepared to withhold a vote from anyone who does not actively espouse getting our men and women out of Afghanistan. I don’t mean in that nebulous 2014 withdrawal plan the Administration espouses; I mean right now.

I remember working on an anti-Vietnam campaign whose slogan was “out of Asia or out of office.” It was highly effective and elected officials heard the message. I truly believe Barack Obama could be a hero if he would simply stand up, stop the bleeding in Afghanistan and say, “hey, it’s not working and it’s time to stop.”

And if you think this is old left wing jargon coming back to life, note that right wing columnist Peggy Noonan is now saying almost exactly the same thing. I heard her on Morning Joe this past week reminding sleepwalking citizens that our country continues to spend $2 billion a week in Afghanistan. Just think of the schools that money could be improving, the debt it could be relieving, the care it could be providing.

I have spent most this past year writing about aging issues — and believe me, I don’t like them any more than you do. I won’t stop worrying about the aches and pains and wrinkles and spots. But at the same time, I am determined to re-start my long dormant social conscience and activism. Bin Laden is dead. Enjoy the moment … then meet me at the BAR?

Michele Willens is a journalist and playwright who coined the term “tweens” for the New York Times. She is editor of FACE IT: What Women Really Feel As Their Looks Change, a psychological guide to help women deal with the emotions brought on by their changing appearance.

44 comments so far.

  1. avatar Bella Mia says:

    John Stossel had a column: “Where did all the war protestors go?”
    As soon as Obama was elected BOOM, protestors gone. Cindy Sheehan can’t get air time to save her life, and she’s desperately trying – poor thing.

    We have deep ties to the military community and our son leaves for Afghanistan in January. Our friends tell us horror stories about the people and customs of Afghanistan, giving new meaning to the words barbaric and predatory. However, I realize that I would rather fight these Islamists on their turf, than on our home turf., because HERE is their goal. With the death of OBL they will only ramp up the carnage, and attacks on America. We are very, very vulnerable. DHS knows that hordes of Islamists are making their way across our southern border. Unfortunately, they’re arrested many, and let them go on their own recognizance until trial. Total insanity.

    The war will go on because the middle east is spiraling out of control, oil drilling is being shut down here in the US – another site shut down in Alaska this week, and more being shuttered in Texas and New Mexico due to an “endangered lizard.” Syria is on the verge of collapse egged on by the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood. I’ve never seen such chaos in my life. Protest all you want, but the tide of history is coming in and nothing is going to stop it.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      “Hordes of Islamists”? O, I did forget, anyone who follows the Muslim faith is a terrorist…of course. Would you please detail the acts of carnage these ravening hordes have committed during their attacks on America of late? I’ll wait…I’m certain it will be for a very long time. And are you really saying that Osama bin Laden’s apprehension and death were a mistake? Or are you just peeved that it was done carefully and efficiently, without leaks or loss of American lives, on Obama’s watch? I would wager that is enough cause for most serious far right wing fanatics to be prophesying doom as a result of bin Laden’s extermination. If it had been accomplished during under the hand of a Mrs. Palin, or Mr. Trump, I suspect the Right Field would be rejoicing madly.

      The moratorium on drilling in the Gulf was lifted months ago. It is not land drilling for oil that is the most profitable and least hazardous to the environment (this despite the BP disaster, which was due to an act of negligence and direct refusal to maintain and test safety measures properly…not an “accident”, and not at all likely to happen again, and not a “spill”), it is deep water drilling. New wells are already being tested, with much firmer regulations and much more serious fines and penalties in place.

      The anti-war people haven’t gone anywhere. We’re still very active….regardless of political affiliation, or lack thereof. Interesting that in a former post you lauded the capture and execution of Sadam Hussein, who, although a monster, was not a direct threat to this country, and was not behind the 9/11 attacks that were the purported reason for G. W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq (which neither gave sanctuary to, nor supported Al Qaeda or the Taliban), and insisted that the our long-term occupation of that country has improved our relations with it (it hasn’t) and the political/religious mood (we’ve managed to start a schismatic religious war between rival Islamic sects). Having Sadam gone is good…the rest is unmitigated political maneuvering. Bush invaded Iraq because it was much easier geographically, politically, and in terms of military strategy and world popularity than trying to invade Afghanistan (or our ally, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was apprehended yesterday). It was a target of expediency. I guess all of the loss of American life in Iraq, and the devastating injuries, and the PTSD and brain damage cases that remain untreated and in acute distress from that continuing debacle are fine with you. No sneaking, plotting, heretical hordes of Islamist/terrorists because we got Sadam under Republican/Conservative/Right-wing watch, correct? But actually removing a festering human pustule like bin Laden in a precise, miliary operation with Barack Obama and we should have just left him to live the high life (in our supposed ally’s back yard) lest we incur the wrath of the heathen multitudes. Good grief.

      I live in Texas. Near that Southern border. Our biggest issue is not hordes of Islamists…it is Mexican drug wars, and really poor people sneaking across the border, or attempting it and getting dead for their efforts, in the mistaken hope that this is still the land of milk and honey. I was at the International Terminal at GWB airport yesterday. The security is awe-inspiring. I feel a certain amount of darkly humorous pity for your Islamic terrorists on their alleged covert missions across the “Southern Border”. If the Mexican drug cartels don’t get them, the Border Patrol, or the coyotes (I am referring to the two-legged variety), or the robbers and ethnically suspicious (anyone who is dark-complected is suspect) residents of the border towns will…especially if they do not speak Spanish. This is not an easy place for those who speak Middle Eastern languages to freely waltz into, Bella, and no, I am not proud of the racial profiling and prejudice here.

      I am firmly anti-war. I would like to see us out of the Middle East. We’ve been in Afghanistan a very long time…Obama did not originate that conflict, or arm the Talibam in the beginning. Our soldiers were left unsupported there by G. W. Bush when he decided to ignore the real problem, and instead polish his world wide reputation and go the expedient route by invading Iraq. I expect your son who is going off to Afghanistan volunteered for the military, that he is an adult, and that he made his choice. My father was drafted for Korea, my husband’s father volunteered for Viet Nam. Both saw horrors enough for anyone in those debacles. Did you expect that your son would have a desk job if he volunteered now? Many sons and daughters are going off to Afghanistan…would you be screaming less if a Palin or Trump was in office? One wonders…

      I do not believe that there will ever be an end to war, because humans, male AND female, are not wired for peace. We created the engines that drive conflict…religion, politics, countries, tribes. I would love to see the United States extract itself from the Middle East…but Barack Obama certainly can’t wave a magic wand an make it so. We are deeply entrenched…by former administrations. Ending our involvement would not bring the war against terror home…terrorists do not function in the same way as the working armies of a rival nation. They’ll attack or they won’t based on their own fanatical agenda. As for activism…and protesting…I suppose people could refuse to vote for anyone who didn’t promise (cross their heart and hope to die) to immediately, actively begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Of course, politicians can and will promise anything…promises made during a campaign don’t amount to much…especially in volatile, highly changeable situations in which just reaching in your hand and saying, “Okay, everybody out of the pool” just may not work so well.

      So, how about this for an alternative? Why don’t we try voting for people who aren’t likely to start new conflicts, or even eager to do so? Who understand that that skin color, and religious diversity, and different ethnicity, and even a birth certificate that doesn’t look just like your own, doesn’t make another person the enemy. Who aren’t motivated by greed or political correctness or xenophobia or ignorance. And while we’re at it, let’s actually support the person who’s in office by not expecting miracles, magic and unicorns with rainbow manes and tails (how odd that anyone who voted for Barack Obama is perceived that way…of course, given the I-didn’t-get-my-magic-pony attitude of some of his, mmm, supporters who evidently were shocked that he is only a man, not a magician or a divine presence, and are bitterly disappointed that he can’t perform juju and make everything into LaLa land, I guess that perception is somewhat justified). Instead of protests and sign waving for peace…how about we try to help the dazed and walking wounded who have come back from these useless conflicts? That’s where I put my energy…and it is needed, desperately.

      Yeah, yeah, I talk too much, and this morning put me on a roll. But damn, people, I do despise ignorance, and I came into the picture too late to be a protester, and I’m disinclined toward Causes and Activism…and more inclined toward working from within…the insidious approach. I do believe it’s a good thing bin Laden is dead…and that it was done well.

      Way to go, America.

      • avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

        Way to go Briana! How I love your energy and your spunk. All I would add is something the English historian. C. V. Wedgewood said of the thirty Years War which for me rings true, especially the last sentence:
        ” This war need not have happened and settled nothing worth settling… the dismal course of the conflict, dragging on from one decade to the next and from one deadlock to the next, seems to me an object lesson on the dangers and disasters which can arise when men of narrow hearts and little minds are in high places.”

      • avatar Lila says:

        BAM!! You go, girl.

      • avatar O E says:

        Thank you, Briana, for this well-reasoned, informed, and focused post.  It is one that shouldn’t be limited to this online publication, but should be part of every online discussion group and editorial page available in print and on the Internet.  I hope you do replicate it elsewhere.  Some people are inclined to make quick statements and propagate unfounded information that is divisive and inflamatory for the sake of drama and these people need to read your post.  It will open their eyes and spurr thoughtful consideration of facts and possibilities. 

        Well said, Briana.  Again, thank you.

      • avatar ssfamily says:

        Well said Briana!

        As an Army Mom myself, with a military family background, I know my Soldier VOLUNTEERED. I also voted for Obama. I’m against the war in Iraq, though sadly my Soldier is in the middle of his third tour over there. Unfortunately, we have to clean up some of our mess before he gets to come home.

        The anti-war protesters are still around. I was furious, about a year after the election, while driving around our metropolitan area, people were waving signs saying “Stop OBAMA’s war!” Excuse me???? Whose war? Our previous administration dropped our Soldiers in Afghanistan, and left them without necessary resources to invade another country, unprovoked, for the first time in our nation’s history.

        We’ve achieved our goal to eliminate the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, and to finally get Osama bin Laden. Time to clean up and come home!!!

        Against the wars? YES. Against our troops, No way! We need to care for those wounded, whether visibly or not. None of them should be coming home and left hanging with no support!

      • avatar macwoof woof says:

        bravo Briana, well said.

        I am relieved Osama is gone but cannot celebrate his murder.

    • avatar Maggie W says:

      Hordes of Islamists, you say.  Hordes ?  Our courts have tried 195 cases of terrorism since 2001, according to Justice Department figures.  If we want to include everything from the smallest terrorism-related passport violation to the case against Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui, that number would increase substantially.

      Not a single one (tried)  crossed onto American soil by way of our southern border. 

    • avatar Lila says:

      Cindy Sheehan is back. As a “deather”… ie, claiming this whole thing is a hoax.

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I think it’s time to get angry about Pakistan and all the lies we were told about 9/11 and while the deaths of those we lost on 9/11 have been finally avenged, there is no justice in the death of Osama bin Laden. Justice will come when those who told the lies are held accountable. 

    So much for the “the terrorists are living in remote mountainous regions” lie – Osama bin Laden had lived for the past six years in a luxury compund surrounded by the Pakistani Army. Some would say  protected rather than surrounded.  I certainly would.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Pakistan is complicated, and that is the understatement of the century. I have no doubt that bin Laden had Pakistani protectors. But without Pakistan, we never could have carried out the war in Afghanistan (I am very familiar with all of the logistics and various routes in and out. We NEED Pakistan’s cooperation).

      The kicker is, al-Qaeda and the Taliban will now target Pakistan authorities as well as the US, even though they had nothing…. NOTHING to do with this raid (which is why it was a success!). But they did let us into their territory, they did let us establish bases in Pakistan, and they did support the war in Afghanistan.

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        Yes, Lila, and we DO pay Pakistan $1 billion a year for that privilege.   Pakistan needs to be given a wake up call from the US.    The whole world believes they knew about Bin Laden’s residence for the past 5 to 6 years in Pakistan.    They need to explain why they allowed this while collecting $6 billion from the United States.    Enough is enough.   

        The US needs to get tough on Pakistan.   First, they need to stop the annual check.   It has bought us nothing and cost the taxpayers everything.

        Unlike you, I do not feel Afghanistan is significant to anything at this point.   The thought of spending our taxdollars to build infrastructure there makes gives me a headache.   The US will NEVER make a difference in the lives of the Afghani people.   We need to get out and let them find their own way.  

      • avatar Lila says:

        Again, Pakistan is complicated and that is a huge understatement. The Pak government is in NO way monolithic, or coordinated, or working together within itself. It is entirely possible that the highest levels really knew nothing about bin Laden’s presence. But SOMEONE did, I am certain. Powerful and highly-placed someones, and their loyalists. I will bet there are a lot of intel assessments going on now about who in the Pak heirarchy likely knew, and who likely did not.

        As for the financial aid to Pak, I also cringe at it but unfortunately that’s too often how the world works, and it has actually bought us quite a lot. Other countries peripheral to the Afghan war have also made a killing in US aid. For that matter – Israel is our single largest annual beneficiary of foreign aid and I can’t tell what we get from that at all.

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        Lila, I can’t see what we get for sending aid to Israel either.   I feel sorry for the taxpayers, quite frankly.   We send our money to Washington DC and it flies out the window to other countries.   There’s something wrong with that.   Why can we not elect a leader who can bring common sense solutions to our financial outlay to these countries?    We need so much here at home and it is getting worse every day because we haven’t created jobs necessary to get a large number of Americans back to work.

        We, as a country, have ourselves in one hell of a financial mess and if we don’t elect the right people in 2012 we are sunk.   To me, it would seem that the first thing we should do is pay the debt back to China….even if we have to ask the taxpayers to pay a little more to see that it gets done.   Bet we wouldn’t hear a peep out of the American people if they knew we could but the bait bucket by pulling together to make it happen. 

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Pakistan is complicated. The Bushes are duplicitious.  And apparenltly in the end quite clueless. I suspect another Pandora’s Box has been opened.  Al Queda. The Taliban. They are one in the same. The “freedom fighters” we trained in Afghanistan. Who apparenlty twere also quite duplicitious. So many snakes. So many snake charmers.

  3. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I wish Pierre Salinger were alive. To redeem himself.  By asking the quesion. “WTF?”

    • avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

      Ha! And I wish Teddy Roosevelt, being so bully about wars, could see what they have wrought.Somehow he thought all wars could be like the Spanish/American War –-a piece of cake. When his youngest and beloved son died in the WW1, it broke his heart; he didn’t live too much longer after that and I wonder whether he viewed war differently then. The old Manifest Destiny mindset needs to be put in moth balls.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Actually I was referring to Pierre Salinger claiming the bin Laden family left Boston the afternoon of 9/11 on a private 727 which flew them to London. The story was pulled from the Reutere feed as were others. The FBI later said they were merely taken to a “safe place” and later flown to London along with other “innocent” Saudis.  Of course the afternoon of 9/11 I was on the phone with the FBI being lied to about why someone the morning of 9/11 they had said would be arrested wasn’t arrested.  So you know, well, I believe Pierre Salinger. Andwould never belivee a word the FBI said.  Particularly whatever  they have probably put in my files.

        As for the “innocent” Saudis we are supposed to take the FBI’s word fo it. Of course in Princess Haifa’s case the grand jury investing Riggs Bank decided not to. But she and Prince Bandar were called back to Saudi Arabia on “urgent family business” before the subpoena could be issued.   I forget what the Wasington Post suddenly turned its attention to at that point. I think perhaps the price of asparagus in Paris. Much more interesting than all the money laundering that went on ot Riggs Banks.

      • avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

        Ah, Snooks, such memories:

        PRICE OF ASPARAGUS PIQUES PEEK

  4. avatar crystalclear says:

    I love good discussion like this.   There are many angles from which to criticize the war in Afghanistan.   No one has the guts to pull them out now.   With Osama killed and swimming among the sharks I now fear that Al Qaeda will, once again, find Afghanistan to be a safe haven.   After all, the Afghan people are not loyal to Americans.   They only want money.   And, when Al Qaeda  pays the price they will be welcomed back into Afghanistan and more of our soldiers will die because of it.

    I say pull our troops out NOW and allow Al Qaeda to come back.    Then we send drones over and wipe all of the liars and cheaters.   When will the US learn?   Let Israel fight her own battles.  Turn a deaf ear to the Middle East and Asia and start drilling for oil in the USA!!   Raise China’s tax on goods to 25% (I liked that Donald Trump!) and use the money to pay back our debt to China.

    It’s time to get tough and take care of our own people.

    • avatar crystalclear says:

      a few corrections above:   “With Obama DEAD…”  Also, in stating that we should send drones over to Afghanistan once Al Qaeda goes back in (and they will)  it is in the name of “fighting terrorism” not starting another war.    If Afghanistan provides a safe haven then they are just as much a part of terrorism against the US and other countries as the Al Qaeda group.

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        still didn’t get it right LOL…”with Osama DEAD” not Obama.    Already time to call it a day! 

    • avatar Lila says:

      Taxing Chinese imports 25% will only hurt those folks who are already living paycheck to paycheck.

      Wal-Mart’s execs announced last week that its “core customers” are running out of money faster than they were a year ago; this is blamed on higher fuel prices, but the point is, their money is still gone before the end of the month and they can’t EVEN buy Wal-Mart’s cheap Chinese stuff. How much less their purchasing power will be if they have to pay 25% more…

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        Lila, what would be your plan to pay back our debt to China?

      • avatar Lila says:

        We don’t. At least no time soon.

        First off, it’s not so much an issue of debt to China as total debt. If China did not hold those trillion dollars in US Treasuries, someone else would. If China pulls out of Treasuries, the US will have to raise interest rates to attract other buyers, leading to a weaker dollar and impacting market rates here in the US.

        Since China holds so much in Treasuries, a strong US dollar is in their interests too. There are times when a weaker currency is desirable… with two and a half wars going on and citizens’ purchasing power eroding, this isn’t it.

        In the end, it’s just like a person borrowing a lot of money: the only way to get rid of the debt is to pay it off over time by changing your spending habits long-term. Either we need more income (GDP) or we need to tighten our belts, or both (oh… hey… the price tag on these two wars roughly equals the debt to China). But taxing the guy who just loaned you a bunch of money, so that your own citizens have to pay more for their goods, doesn’t get your debt paid back.

      • avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

        Thank you, Lila. Sometimes it’s a good idea to get to know the REAL facts of the situation instead of willy-nilly thinking you know the answer to foreign policy problems and thinking they can be solved by simple solutions. Someone like Trump who shoots off his mouth claiming he would do thus and so just makes him look more like the idiot that he is.

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        Lila, I’m learning a great deal from your well informed posts.   I’m probably one of those people phyllis is referring to about knowing the real facts before jumping in with an uninformed opinion.   I’ll try my best to look before I leap in the future.

    • avatar Maggie W says:

      Taxing the Chinese is a bad idea on many fronts.   For starters, in order to raise taxes on China, the US has to resort to declaring it a currency manipulator.  Also, Chinese products could rise by 25%.  Consumers cannot pay now as it is.  China could have a reciprocal tax on US imports and could restrict the entry of some US products . Why would the USA want to take that chance, even if it is short term?  

      What Trump doesn’t realize is retailers would step up buying from India, South Korea, Bangladesh, etc. that already have plants up and running.  Since China holds about $900 billion worth of US treasuries, it hardly seems wise to want to play hard ball when we are in a very fragile recovery period.

      But that is the only game Trump knows. Fortunately, this is just more noise from Trump, who will never be President.

  5. avatar Lila says:

    EXCUSE ME???? “Barging in uninvited??” Let us review what really happened in Afghanistan in late 2001:

    1) Osama bin Laden, a longstanding “guest” of the Taliban, used Afghanistan as a training and staging ground for his quite spectacular and successful 9/11 operation. You might remember it. Vaguely, I guess.

    2) Having determined that bin Laden was the perpetrator, and his location, the US FIRST appealed to the Taliban to surrender bin Laden. The Taliban refused. The only three countries to have any diplomatic ties with the Taliban government – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and UAE – severed those ties. The US provided plenty of opportunity to hand over bin Laden, and had the Taliban done so, there would NOT have been a war. Let me tell you, no one wants to prosecute a war with a landlocked dirt hole half a world away if it can be avoided.

    3) With the failure of diplomacy and the Taliban’s refusal to hand over bin Laden, the US was left with no choice but to attack and destroy the Taliban. Bin Laden, a nonstate actor, was always AN objective. But THE objective was destruction of the Taliban government. Because you can’t let rogue governments allow or endorse attacks on your country, and then let them stand and defy you while they shelter the perpetrators.

    So YEAH, that’s an engraved invitation if ever I saw one. I’m pretty sure it read something like, “Dear USA, the Taliban requests the pleasure of a severe ass-kicking at your hands. Please RSVP at your convenience.”

    Iraq in 2002 was a whole different story, but Afghanistan was absolutely necessary.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Maybe he wasn’t in Afghanistan? He could have been anywhere.  An evil man with lots of money. The family said he was cut off. And he yet built a million dollar compound in Pakistan six years ago. Maybe Princess Haifa was writing checks again to a “poor Saudi family.”

      As for whatever did or did not unfold suddenly after six years it probably was just a case of someone deciding he was “tradeable” for something. The something is what scares me.

      • avatar Lila says:

        In September 2001 he was in Afghanistan. After that, anyone’s guess. But since the Taliban harbored him, enabled him, and then protected him while he made his getaway, and not only did we have the facts but they admitted as much – they had to go. They were the state sponsors of a major terrorist act against the US, in effect, an act of war.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Please. Enough. Osam bin Laden traveled freely throughout the Arab world on his Saudi passport. Which means the Saudis lied. My, my. Imagine that. He also had continued funds from his father’s estate. Which means his family lied. My, my. Imagine that.

  6. avatar Lila says:

    Oh, and: “Was our outrage simply about keeping those close to us safe at home?”

    Uh, YES. The American people ARE sleepwalking, as you say. They don’t CARE about $2 billion per week in Afghanistan. The only ones who care about wounded warriors, or worry about those deployed, are their friends and family. I cannot tell you how angry I was in 2002 as the Iraq war kicked off, unjustified, with nary a peep of criticism or questioning from the public. I thought – maybe when Christmas comes around… but still nothing, everyone just went shopping. I thought – maybe when we hit our 1,000th casualty… but no, then it was more important to watch the Britney Spears meltdown. And a second Christmas came and went with…. more shopping, and American Idol. After that, I quit waiting for the public outrage. No one even seemed to care that there were really no WMDs in Iraq. So you can keep waiting of the outrage, too. It ain’t coming.

    You want outrage, you want people to pay attention, you want protests, you want to make sure we only enter into justified, necessary wars? Require a draft. Unless people are personally vested in the risks, they DO NOT CARE.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Lila, some of us cared…a lot. I had voted for GWB, and my first response to the invasion of Iraq was “WTF?! Why? The Talibam, Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden aren’t in Iraq, supported by Iraq, or training in Iraq. What the hell is he thinking?” I couldn’t fathom why we were in Iraq. Most of my friends are politically, and socially conservative, and they were Flying the Flag, so to speak…(I live in Houston, within walking distance of 6 large, very popular churches…especially on Sundays…and you could see nothing but McCain/Palin signs for blocks during the last election…and a veritable explosion of He Has Risen crosses that remind of markers for the battlefield dead after Easter) over Bush’s brave decision to conquer our enemy. My family, sometimes so far Left it makes my teeth hurt from the dissonant squeal of their irrationality, muttered darkly about Cheney, Big Business, and Big Oil.

      I knew it wasn’t that, and I wasn’t proud and feeling patriotic. I felt sick. It was an invasion and military of expediency and to achieve world approbation for our government, and standing adminsitration, in the face of 9/11. What better targets than the loathsome Saddam Hussein, with his chemical weapons and genocidal tendencies, and his sadistic, rapist spawn that the entire world despised and condemned? They lived in a country with relatively easy topography, a much less hostile population, and, whether most of the American public understands, or chooses to believe it or not, a relatively civilized and organized society and culture…all compared to the hell that is Afghanistan. Miles of impossible, broken terrain with hills, gullies, ravines, and unknown cave systems that twist and turn, also for miles, and no water that is unguarded or easily accessible. A hostile government, and a society and culture that is all about violence and war. Even their national sport, buzkashi, is a horror show of blood, agony and death…for men and the horses they ride, and weddings are celebrated with the firing of rifles, and by winding up the groom to a state of violent frenzy. It isn’t money that motivates the Afghan men…it’s the promise of war and violence. The women are without any rights, as are the children…even without Taliban rule. And Bush waltzed into Iraq, and left our remaining troops in this nightmare, extremely xenophobic place (they detest all Westerners, not just Americans), abandoned and unsupported.

      Some of us know, Lila. I have one son who could go to war if a draft were reinstated. I don’t know what I’d do. Not because I don’t believe that all should serve, or because I think my child is too special to risk…but because our government can’t get it right. I grieve for the soldiers lost in Iraq, and even more for those being lost in Afghanistan…because we will not fight our wars in a place like that as we need to in order to protect our troops. We’re too concerned about what the world will think…so our people are killed, wounded, crippled physically and mentally, and sent home in bags, or broken. If we’re going to fight in shit holes like that, we have to play by their rules of engagement…and we won’t.

      I don’t give a damn about American Idol, I think Brittney Spears is a joke and I don’t “follow the stars”. I think it was shocking that WoW didn’t even mention the tornadoes that have killed more than 300 in this country…just the usual celebutard yada-yada…and that includes all the hand wringing over Donald Trump, the cockroach. Losing $2 billion to Afghanistan every week sucks…losing any more troops at all to incompetency, political correctness, worrying about our image in the world’s eyes and wars of convenience is a travesty and should rock our souls to the foundation.

      Texas is a hard place right now to make any headway…but at least my son is being brought up to understand. He asks a lot about his grandfathers…both died very young, before he was born…and what war was like for them. There isn’t much we can tell him…but my dad was in Korea, and I know he saw horrors there, and R.’s father had to shoot an insurgent at point blank range when he was attacked at a mechanics’ station in Viet Nam…after being chased through the darkness for a long, long time. Both men served, neither complained, both were irrevocably damaged. My dad was in combat, and his best friend was standing right next to him when his head was blown completely off of his shoulders. My father was 19 years old.

      We knew that there were no WMD’s in Iraq, and we knew that it was unnecessary, and it made me ill that I had voted for the man who sent our soldiers there. It’s going to be a long time before I vote Republican again…not because I’m partisan…but because I keep seeing the same moronic mindset gleaming in the eyes of the GOP candidates. I will not go there again.

    • avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

      Actually, Lila, there were plenty of people who were concerned about going into Iraq––there were dynamite discussions between respected people like Mark Danner, Tony Judt, Hitchens and Michael Ignatieff and early on Paul O’Neil’s book revealed an early plan to invade Iraq and when I read Joe Wilson’s piece in the Times one Sunday morning I knew there were putrid waters wafting from the Potomac. Danner especially wrote tirelessly about all this. I wrote my congress people, I wrote some poems, I got into heated discussions with people; but my voice was not important nor was it listened to. And the majority of Americans weren’t paying attention and yes, continued shopping––after all wasn’t it Bush who after 9/11 encouraged it?
      You, Lila, once again hit the old nail on its head––of course, a draft. Unfortunately it didn’t stop the carnage in Vietnam, but it could very well deter a grand scale intervention in the near future. But we’ll never have it––and your post tells us why.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Phyllis, my voice also was not important. I was close enough to the Potomac to smell those putrid waters, believe you me, and I mouthed off to anyone who would listen but even my bosses and their bosses weren’t in any position to do anything other than commiserate. Shoot – recall that Rummy forced Gen Shinseki, CoS of the Army, into retirement just for giving an accurate estimate of the number of troops required to secure Iraq post-combat. A number Rummy apparently did not like. And I personally know of another General who retired suddenly after refusing to cherry-pick intelligence reports (and would not let his staff do so, either — integrity!), although that story did not hit the press.

        In that atmosphere, who could stop the train that was screaming along toward derailment? Only, perhaps, Colin Powell, but he would have had to fall on his sword in front of Congress. Instead, he gave a little song and dance to the UN and for that, I cannot forgive him.

      • avatar isa says:

        I can see why being so close to the situation you would feel the rage at the insanity that most of us just witnesses from a distance.  I also was disappointed with Powell, and my guess is he as well was disappointed by his own “selling out” to the powers that be.

    • avatar isa says:

      Hi Lila, it is always so good to read your perspective.  I join Briana and Phyllis in saying that a lot of us cared and still do, very much.  Going to Iraq was such a insult to our sensitivities, intelligence and plain old common sense.  Maybe I do care because I also come from family members who have been directly affected by the devastion of war, but it really does not take one’s direct experience with such horrors to understand the gravity and costs of war.  When Giuliani and Bush and Cheney were pounding their chests about revenge.  I could only remember words from my own grandfather, who escaped a WWI concentration camp, “revenge does not accomplish anything!”.  I can’t rejoice that Osama Bin Laden was killed.  Another criminal off the face of the earth.  A good thing.  Possibly.  The US does have to protect its citizens.  Closure maybe for some of the 9/11 families.   As I heard President Obama last night I was struck that the time he seemed the most present in his speech was when he looked at the camera and spoke of the 9/11 families and the military.  Obama gets it.  It is not about revenge.  And it is not about being unilaterally against war.  As you wrote Lila, Afghanistan’s politics and its relationship with the US is complicated and layered.  No easy answers.  To the author of this article, war cannot be avoided regardless of how much we go out there with our, “make love not war” shirts.  My grandfather decided to volunteer and serve as a soldier against the NAZI when he felt his country was doing something that went too much against what he believed in.  As long as our intentions are pure and clear regardless of the circumstances we can be ambassadors of hope, growth and change.  Even if we cannot erase the human need for conflict.  No pounding on the chest by Obama, last night.  I liked that.  We accomplished something that needed to be done, something extremely unpleasant that does not require rejoicing.  Peace on earth for all.  How great!  Not realistic.  Working in our own world to stay connected to what needs to be done at any given moment, necessay!

      • avatar isa says:

        “WWII”

      • avatar Lila says:

        My Dad was also a WWII vet. He was in North Africa and Italy, rarely talked about it and not in any detail… until I joined the Army, and then the stories poured out. Really something. Your grandfather and my Dad both understood about revenge solving nothing; “revenge” for WWI, in the form of impossible war reparations, paved the way for Hitler’s rise and WWII. So we followed up with the Marshall Plan after that.

        I was stationed in Germany on 9/11. The Germans came in droves to our base gates, leaving flowers, cards, and candles. One German (certainly not old enough to remember WWII) said: “You stood with us after the war. You did not treat us like an enemy,. You helped us get back on our feet. Now we are with you.” Even after five decades, the way we behaved as victors meant so much to the German public.

  7. avatar Bonnie O says:

    Since there is not a specific article relating to the death of Osama bin laden, I would just like to say I am very glad the SOB is dead.

    As for the changes being made at Defense and the CIA, the President is making excellent choices.  It is always a dicey move when a Democrat is holding the office of Secretary of Defense…and that is probably why both Clinton and Obama made their selection from outside the Democratic Party.  Panetta is a good choice and even though he and  AG Holder had some “issues”  for which Obama sided with Holder, Panetta is a practical politican.  General Petraeus is an honored and highly esteemed military officer…. nothwithstanding that horrible moveon.org add that called him a betrayer.  The far left might find opposition to Obama’s choices but, IMO, that is never a bad thing ….. when the far left objects to anything.

    • avatar Lila says:

      What I like best about the picks for CIA and Defense is – a senior military guy taking CIA, and the former CIA head taking Defense. They will understand each other. Gates is another former CIA head and I think that helped immensely over the past few years.

      It’s also a bonus that Panetta is a budget-savvy guy. DoD will need that.

      • avatar Bonnie O says:

        Lila - 

        I agree about Panetta being budget-savy.  However, Gates and previous Secretaries were also budget smart.  The problem is with the Congress.  Many members of Congress object to any cut in Defense if that “cut” directly relates to their district and/or constituents.  I have read many times of Defense Department proposals to discontinue a weapon, or a particular helicopter or even a specific model of jet aircraft but the proposals were all knocked down by Congress fearing voter reprisals.

        Perhaps at this moment in time with the force of the Tea Party budget slashers on watch, an even greater reduction in Defense will occur.  Gates managed to cut approximately $175 Billion of which $75 billion was in real cash while the remaining $100 billion was in cancelled contracts.  A small achievement, granted …but a beginning.