A dozen years ago I sat my pacifist self down across the table from two teen aged boys who were temporarily in my care. They had been in a fight, and I do not approve of fighting. Not between teen aged boys. Not between nations.
I told the boys a racial slur was not worth a fist fight. I reminded them that they - both black - were bigger than that. I told them nothing was ever solved with violence, and that they gave away their power the minute they engaged in it.
It's what I believed with all my heart.
But - I have never been called a nigger.
That day I wondered if my pacifist perspective was a bit sheltered. Tonight, I'm wondering the same thing. Are some things worth a fight?
What about "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future?"
President Obama thinks that's a perfectly good reason to fight. He's sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan based on that argument: We must beat the bad guys.
But, it seems to me the bad guys win if we continue to deplete our deeply-indebted financial stores to the tune of $1-million per soldier per year to continue a war that's been depleting our stores for eight years.
It seems to me the bad guys win when the locals (Afghanis) blame poverty, corrupt government (US supported), and interference from other countries for the war in their land before they blame al-Qaida.
It seems to me the bad guys win every time another flag draped coffin is pulled from a plane at an Air Force Base on US soil.
Did you study the faces of the cadets tonight as President Obama delivered his plan to the West Point audience? To say they were solemn would be an understatement. Many of them will go to Afghanistan as soon as the last verse of "Silent Night" is sung in a few weeks. They know this.
Some of them have already been.
Surely a good number of them have lost a friend to the battle.
I'd love to know how they feel about the worthiness of the fight.
Because I have never trained nor taken an oath to defend the constitution of the United States. Nor have I read through daily security briefings with information like the President divulged tonight: "In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror."
Maybe there is something about our ongoing quagmire that we call war in Afghanistan that I just don't see.
But if it's peace and stability we're after...I sure don't see it at the end of a gun.
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