America reached a heartbreaking “milestone” in July.
More than 5,000 Americans have now died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our nation’s involvement in Afghanistan has lasted
three years longer than America’s participation in World Wars I and II
combined. (WW I: 19 months; WW II: 33 months; Afghanistan: 88 months, so far.)
Our military presence in Afghanistan has recently
increased to 62,000. Most NATO
Alliance countries also have troops in Afghanistan.
In spite of these facts, a comparatively tiny number of entrenched
insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan remains fanatically dedicated to
destroying the most revered achievements of Western Civilization.
Meanwhile, 130,000 American combat troops remain in Iraq.
“Costs of war” must be measured not only in troop
and civilian casualty statistics -- tragic and mounting though they be.
Funding for programs essential to civilization - health care,
scholarships, infrastructure, and schools - must be reduced or eliminated
because America spends $800 million each day to fight wars.
Although not a Quaker myself, I am grateful that a local
group of Friends annually alerts Roundtowners to these “hidden costs of
war.” The Quakers’ “Eyes Wide
Open” exhibit, held each autumn in front of the Pickaway County Courthouse,
displays of a pair of boots for every Ohioan killed in the Iraq War.
The boots honor each of the fallen by name, including a photo, military
rank, and hometown. With banners and leaflets appealing to our sensibility and
intelligence, the exhibit reminds us poignantly of war‘s “costs,” and it
challenges us to find alternatives to violence in every aspect of civilized
living. “Eyes Wide Open” will
be presented again during the last weekend in September.
Eighty-eight months have passed since American and NATO
troops invaded Afghanistan. No end
to the war - and no end to the costs of warring - is in sight.
For almost four hundred years, peace-seeking Quakers have taught that war is neither ethical, nor effective, nor practical. Does Western Civilization’s hugely violent history not teach similar lessons?
Clarksburg, OH 43115