This month, U.S. fatalities in 2011 in Afghanistan topped 300. August is just four deaths away from being the deadliest month of the entire war.
The numbers speak for themselves. There is no “winding down” going on in Afghanistan. Fatalities are on pace with last year’s massive spike, and have already surpassed every previous year of the war.
An important question we need to ask is, what are we fighting for? Why in 2011 alone have 300 husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends been sent to their graves?
The question is simple, so why are the answers so complicated? Why are our loved ones being sent to bleed to death in another people’s land? Why are hundreds of children growing up missing their mothers and fathers?
We now know from Wikileaks cables that Washington acknowledges that it cannot win the war militarily. The U.S. government has been asking the Taliban to come to the table for talks. Why then is Washington still sending us to die to “defeat the enemy?”
The answer is simple: because our lives mean nothing to this government or the officers that command us. The Pentagon is simply using us as poker chips attempting to bluff their way into a winning hand against the popular anti-occupation forces in Afghanistan. They hope to hit the jackpot and win the billions in super-profits that Afghanistan has under its soil.
The same politicians who use words like “loyalty,” “duty” and “honor” to define what it means to us as enlisted to serve are going behind our backs and secretly negotiating with the same people they are telling us we must risk our lives to defeat!
They like to claim that this has been a difficult decade for “our country.” But they have been doing just fine. The reality is that in this year alone over 300 different families have lost loved ones while the cowards at the Pentagon and Wall Street, whose children never go to war, plot their next move with our lives! No one who is asking us to fight has done any of the dying. And polls show that 2/3 of the American public want all troops out of Afghanistan; the politicians are going against public opinion by continuing to send us.
The reality is that many of us have served with courage and honor. We have fulfilled the oaths that we have taken and we have stood by our brothers and sisters in arms. But we have not been fighting to “preserve our way of life.” The generals and politicians themselves cannot even give a coherent explanation as to why we must continue to die in Afghanistan. We have fought to preserve the parasitic existence of a small minority of super-rich and to advance the careers of officers who do not care about us.
This government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan. They have thrown money in every direction in frantic attempts to gain control and have failed. They have no problem chucking our lives up against mountains and bullets to be torn to shreds. The people we shoot at are fighting us not because they are “terrorists,” but because their villages have been bombed and raided for 10 years. We have far more in common with them than with those rich politicians who order us to fight. The brass try to fool us with words of “freedom” and “democracy” into doing their bidding to support their career advancement.
Even if we could possibly believe their lies about the war, the suicides and lack of health care for veterans speak for themselves. July saw the most suicides ever recorded among active-duty service personnel in a single month. This is the result of constant deployments, and the refusal of the U.S. military to provide even a shred of quality mental health care. The military and its government have no problems negotiating behind the scenes with those they are sending us to be killed by and have no issue denying us mental healthcare when we return. So why are we letting them throw our lives away?
We don’t have to; we have the right to refuse to die for the reckless, pointless orders of rich politicians. More and more service members are standing up every day, and they need your support.
The author is a former infantry sergeant who served 28 months in Iraq.
This article was first published in March Forward! (An organisation of veterans and service members who are taking a stand against war and racism).
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This post was written by Kevin Baker