Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who's Happy Now?

I find a lot to ponder in the opening line of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina:
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
I have stretched Tolstoy's assumption a bit today, as I've pored over speculation and specifics about our war in Afghanistan. I'm guessing most Americans would call Afghanistan an unhappy family. It is war ravaged and fear-ruled. Promises of a fair democracy have been broken, women have been setting themselves on fire at frightening rates, children have been starving. Rain doesn't fall. Human services don't arrive. Offers from terrorists continue to look like the best people can hope for. We could talk all day about Afghanistan's long and storied history of misery, I'm sure. But Afghanistan is not the unhappy family that keeps seeping into my analogous thinking today. It is my country...the United States of America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. United we stand. Bedrock of democracy. For starters, we cannot stop fighting about our fighting. Defense Secretary Gates has indirectly rebuked General Stanley McChrystal who has drawn a line in the strategic sand with President Barack Obama who has a Vice President and a Secretary of State singing in two entirely different keys... All while an assortment of "experts" on the subject show up on our television screens with no small amount of hopeless rhetoric to deliver to us in the name of objectivity. And while we're all wringing our hands and saying, "Oh, Vietnam," 65,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines are on the ground in Afghanistan. Yesterday eight of them died there. If the President and his war council (convening tomorrow) decide to stick with the counterinsurgency plan kicked off earlier this year, the number of our mothers and fathers and sons and daughters who are fighting the terrorists, the culture, the climate, and the geography of Afghanistan will climb to 108,000 within a year. And it seems only right for our big, superpower USA family to be reminded that Russia fell to Afghan freedom fighters in the 1980s with 120,000 troops on the ground. I think happy families dance in the streets. Afghan people were doing that as the Soviets pulled out of their country in 1987 and 1988. There is no dancing in the streets for our US family these days. We are mired in a war that is not working. My opinion - which will surprise no one - is that war never works. Anywhere. It creates nothing but chaos and fear and mile after mile of human suffering. A family at war is not a happy family. We are unhappy in our own way. As I read heartbreaking stories about families in Afghanistan today, I came across a website for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. This organization is working courageously, under the most dire of circumstances and conditions, to keep women and children alive in its most unhappy country. Here's what RAWA says of our war:
RAWA believes that freedom and democracy can't be donated; it is the duty of the people of a country to fight and achieve these values.
Let there be peace...and happiness...in the world family. Let it begin with us.

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