Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Forgetting that peace should be the aim of war

I find myself in agreement with New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Hob Herbert who reminds us that "the goal when fighting any war should be peace, not a permanent simmer of nonstop maiming and killing. Wars are meant to be won," writes Herbert, "— if they have to be fought at all — not endlessly looked after." Yet allowing for a permanent simmering appears to be what the US and its allies like Australia are settling for in Afghanistan. Even the politicians are not trying to kid us that this is a war that the west can actually win. Containment of terrorists - terrorists who have largely moved elsewhere anyhow (see my recent post Australian Troops for Somalia?) - is what the lives of an increasing number of soldiers are being sacrificed for.
Some telling extracts from We Owe the Troops an Exit - NYTimes.com:
"There is no silver lining to this nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan. Poll after poll has shown that it no longer has the support of most Americans. And yet we fight on, feeding troops into the meat-grinder year after tragic year — to what end?"
"One of the reasons we’re in this state of nonstop warfare is the fact that so few Americans have had any personal stake in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no draft and no direct financial hardship resulting from the wars. So we keep shipping other people’s children off to combat as if they were some sort of commodity, like coal or wheat, with no real regard for the terrible price so many have to pay, physically and psychologically.
Not only is this tragic, it is profoundly disrespectful. These are real men and women, courageous and mostly uncomplaining human beings, that we are sending into the war zones, and we owe them our most careful attention. Above all, we owe them an end to two wars that have gone on much too long."
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