Six years too many-and counting

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by Marita Bujold | March 8, 2009 • The sign in our yard had a red background, but not anymore. The color has faded. Even with the protection offered by the shade of a mature maple tree half of the year, it has faded considerably. SUPPORT THE TROOPS. END THE WAR.

When I heard the announcement that an additional 17, 000 members of the military will be sent to Afghanistan, I tried to remember when I put the sign on our boulevard. Ours was one of the first to appear as I had attended the event where they were being distributed. Days, months, years have passed while the Bush administration insisted that we must remain in Iraq. Bush’s invasion became our nation’s occupation of another country.

Six long years later, the troops have not come home. Iraq is their home away from home.

I accepted the sign when it was offered, but I have always wished it read: SUPPORT THE TROOPS. END THE OCCUPATION’. Because that would more accurately reflect the truth. Our nation invaded Iraq and then occupied it. This was not a war, but by most measures it looks like a war. Thousands dead or injured, unimaginable devastation to the landscape and people’s lives and massive debt –all fueled by lies and more lies.

For the members of the military and their families the cost of this ‘war’ is staggering. And there is no end in sight.

Our children are growing up -finishing elementary school, moving on to junior high while troops are deployed a second and third time. Others finished high school and are now in college. Six interminable years.

SUPPORT THE TROOPS. END THE OCCUPATION.

The White House announced that it has a deadline for bringing combat troops home. But what does that mean? 50,000 others will remain in Iraq-for now. The White House also announced an increase in the military forces. From what part of the population will these new troops be recruited?

Then there is Afghanistan. Do we have a plan for Afghanistan?

By what measure will we determine when we can leave Afghanistan?

Are we destined to squander our nation’s resources and the lives of the members of the military in endless, costly deployments? Will we be telling our grandchildren the story of Iraq and Afghanistan- the Vietnam of our generation?

It would seem so.

The Defense Department has no answers and no exit strategies, but plenty of expectations for more troops and more money. Billions of dollars and counting.

For as with the war in Vietnam, the Defense Department continues to argue that we cannot possibly leave Iraq. Now we should extend the war on terror in Afghanistan as well.

Yet, it is clear that all of the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot fix what we have broken -even if we bankrupt our country in the attempt to do so. Even if we continue to deploy men and women whose children are growing up without them–faithful soldiers who are returning in record numbers broken and lost in mind, body and spirit.

The sign is faded, but the message is as clear as it was the day I pounded the stake into the ground. We cannot afford to wait until the words become invisible to:

SUPPORT THE TROOPS. END THE WAR/OCCUPATION.

End what never should have begun.

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