Memorial Day is a national holiday dedicated to remembering Americans killed in wartime. This year, unfortunately, we remember war dead who didn't have to die, and unless Congress and the president act, we'll remember more needless deaths next year. As of today, 1,516 Americans have died in the Afghanistan War, a conflict that the American people oppose and the continuation of which makes no sense.
Hidden from the front pages of newspapers and other media who can't be bothered to devote significant coverage to the longest war in U.S. history, these dead troops had names and lives before our national policies forced them to give them up.
For example, 23-year-old Army Pvt. Thomas C. Allers from Plainwell, Michigan, was remembered as a "great kid, very sweet," who enjoyed fishing with his parents. He died this week alongside Staff Sgt. Kristofferson B. Lorenzo, 33, of Chula Vista, California; Pfc. William S. Blevins, 21, of Sardinia, Ohio; and Pvt. Andrew M. Krippner, 20, of Garland, Texas.
These men didn't have to die. They died because our politicians sent them to Afghanistan over the continued objections of their countrymen. Their comrades will continue to die until those politicians bring them home.
In a bitter moment of irony this week, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly failed to agree to amendments that would have reined in the brutal, futile war on the same day U.S. troops were suffering their worst losses in Afghanistan since Bin Laden's death. But, as Robert Naiman points out, even though McGovern/Jones amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act failed, the vote margin was so narrow (204-215) that it sent a strong signal to the president that Congress' patience with the constantly deteriorating and resource-hungry war was running out. As U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) put it, "[W]hen somebody comes up with the right amendment, it's going to pass."
The American people's patience ran out long ago, however. For months, poll after poll has shown rock-solid opposition to the Afghanistan War. Since last December, for example, Pew Research Center's polling has consistently shown that at least a plurality (hovering around 50 percent) want to "remove troops ASAP." With Osama bin Laden dead and al Qaeda driven from the country, it's time Congress and the president listened.
Today, we remember Americans killed during the Afghanistan War. Below are the names of the troops who died in that conflict just since last Memorial Day. Congress and the president need to act to end this war immediately so that next year's list is drastically shorter. Please take a moment to sign our petition to bring the troops home.
What is it about the military that turns normally thoughtful journalists into war pornographers? A reporter who would otherwise make it through the day sober spends a little time with the military and loses himself in ever more dramatic language.
If you aren't already bored to death, you should be. If nobody told you otherwise, you could easily believe that almost every breaking Afghan story in the last four weeks came from some previous year of the war.
The death of the world's most wanted terrorist is building up pressure on the United States government to end our country's longest-running war. The question now is whether the American public and its leaders are willing to invest in a long-term strategy for peace.
To imagine that the coalition in Afghanistan can create a functioning economy and establish civilian and military bureaucracies through some "government in a box" highlights the ignorance and arrogance of our central planners in Washington.