The ‘war’ in Afghanistan is turning into a disaster both in lives of Americans and Afghans and total costs that this country simply cannot afford. Our two ‘wars’ are now ranging towards the trillion dollar level — 3 and growing:

Innocent lives — ours and theirs — are being slaughtered and our returning troops have a suicide rate higher than our national one!

All too often our TV does not report these deaths — or only briefly.

As Bob Herbert suggests below it is time for us to move out as graciously as we can. With Pakistan a disaster area we have no help in catching up with let alone halting the Taliban attacks. They are hidden away in inaccessible mountains and our good General Petraeus seems to have no clue as to how to cope. The Taliban are where we are not or mixed in with civilians — except when they attack us. Bob Herbert is one of our few commentators who has it right — We do owe our troops an exit. May it come sooner than later — our Vietnam revisited.


We Owe the Troops an Exit
Published: August 30, 2010

At least 14 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan over the past few days.

We learned on Saturday that our so-called partner in this forlorn war, Hamid Karzai, fired a top prosecutor who had insisted on, gasp, fighting the corruption that runs like a crippling disease through his country.

Time magazine tells us that stressed-out, depressed and despondent soldiers are seeking help for their mental difficulties at a rate that is overwhelming the capacity of available professionals. What we are doing to these troops who have been serving tour after tour in Afghanistan and Iraq is unconscionable.

Time described the mental-health issue as “the U.S. Army’s third front,” with the reporter, Mark Thompson, writing: “While its combat troops fight two wars, its mental-health professionals are waging a battle to save soldiers’ sanity when they come back, one that will cost billions long after combat ends in Baghdad and Kabul.”

In addition to the terrible physical toll, the ultimate economic costs of these two wars, as the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and his colleague Linda Bilmes have pointed out, will run to more than $3 trillion.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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