Since George W. Bush's final days in the White House and during the first days of Barack Obama's administration, fatalities sustained in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have all but slipped from the news.
On Memorial Day, it's appropriate to bring the focus back on those lost lives.
From the time Obama assumed office, an estimated 40 Americans have died in Iraq combat. The total combat deaths for Iraq and Afghanistan dating from the war's beginning, according to the Department of Defense, is approximately 4,300 and 685, respectively, with an estimated 100,000 injured.
While every single life lost in this misguided war is tragic, what could be more agonizing to a family than to learn that their loved one was killed in Iraq this week - more than six years since the pointless conflict began in March 2003?
All the rationale to support the Iraq War has long ago been exposed as a pack of Bush administration lies that was foolishly embraced by a spineless, disengaged Congress.
As News-Sentinel readers are well aware, during the Bush presidency, I was harshly critical of his Iraq policies. After Bush left office, I promised that I would take the same critical perspective on Obama, an equally untrustworthy president.
Recently, Obama, referring to it as a "war of necessity," has escalated the hostilities in Afghanistan and wants to expand fighting into Pakistan. On Capitol Hill, it's called the "Af-Pak War."
During his March press conference, Obama said:
"Al-Qaida and its allies - the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks - are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al-Qaida is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged - that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."
I tipped you off that those are Obama's words. If I hadn't, you might have assumed, because they are so similar in language and tone to Bush's, that our previous president spoke them.
Obama then added:
"Al-Qaida poses a clear and present danger to American interests and its allies throughout the world and must be dealt with by using all the instruments in our national security arsenal in an integrated manner. The terrorist organization's deep historical roots in Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan place it at the center of an 'arc of instability' through South and Central Asia and the greater Middle East that requires a sustained international response."
Does Dick Cheney write Obama's speeches?
Obama's saber-rattling analysis missed several key points:
- First, he's introduced no tangible new evidence that ratcheting up the Afghanistan War will produce any different results than the stalemate we've been mired in for so long.
- Second, eight years and hundreds of billions of dollars since 9/11, and Osama bin Laden is still at large. Obama, again relying on a page from Bush's book, promises that he "almost certainly" knows bin Laden's whereabouts. If so, why is he still at large?
- Third, Obama makes no mention of any retribution against Saudi Arabia, where the majority of the 9/11 terrorists, led by bin Laden, learned to hate America.
- Fourth, Obama's Afghani escalation denies history. By the time the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 at the end of the Soviet-Afghan War, nearly 14,000 of it soldiers had been killed. Nearly one million more were either wounded or, because of the harsh climactic and sanitary conditions, fell ill.
On Memorial Day, Obama will make speeches filled with flowery language about the sacrifices our American soldiers have made in the many wars we have fought.
The president is right to honor the memory of our courageous soldiers.
But Obama will not likely reference his true Memorial Day message: perpetual war and more American combat deaths.
Joe Guzzardi retired last year from the Lodi Unified School District. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.