It's time to bring the troops home

BY GUEST COLUMN | MAY 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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The longest war in American history drags on in its eleventh year at a cost of $300 million per day, with no prospect of progress.

The costs go well beyond the waste of U.S. taxpayers' money: 1,954 U.S. Armed Service personnel have died there; 15,322 bear visible wounds, and tens of thousands bear the invisible wounds of PTSD and TBI; And, after 10 plus years of U.S. military efforts there, Afghanistan is poorer and more alienated to the U.S. than ever.

Our January, 2012, U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) states the war in Afghanistan to be a stalemate. Yet our military and elected leaders speak of progress and our determination to maintain our military effort there until the end of 2014.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Daniel Davis has published reports and articles to Congress and the American public indicating that the Pentagon has been deceiving Congress and the American public as to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan.

At the risk of his own career, he has said, "the American people deserve better than what they've gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start."

Davis' remarks echo judgments made earlier by Marine Captain Matthew Hoh and Colonel Andrew Bacevich, and thousands of veterans of the Afghan war.

Many members of Veterans for Peace served their country during the Vietnam War. We remember the question of a young veteran named John Kerry then recently discharged from the U.S. Navy, as he testified in April 22, 1971, before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

It is with profound sorrow and indignation that we see American soldiers and veterans still asking this question today — 41 years later in 2012 — and still getting the same lame and misleading answers.

The membership of Chapter 161 of Veterans for Peace calls for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan at a rate commensurate with the security of our troops. Given the dismal progress toward the stated objectives, we see no other "responsible" option for ending the war.

The simple truth is that the longer we attempt a military "solution" to Afghanistan, the more dire the consequences we leave when, not if, we finally admit its failure. It's time to bring U.S. troops home, now.

Ed Flaherty
President, Veterans for Peace Chapter #161
Iowa City

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