Source: Independent Voices
By Gerrod A Laber
No mother wants to think that her child died in vain. But, as two more Americans die in Afghanistan this week, we need to face the truth. I know what I’m talking about: my family fought in Vietnam
President Trump has promised repeatedly to end “endless wars,” during both his campaign and his tenure so far in office. Despite this rhetoric, endless — and, frankly, pointless —wars are, sadly, still the American norm.
Two more Americans were just killed in Afghanistan — a war that the Trump administration realises needs to end, but seems in no hurry to actually do so. In December 2018, Trump announced that all US troops would be withdrawn from Syria, only to later rescind that declaration in favour of a small force of 400 to 1,000 troops to stay behind indefinitely, complementing the more than 5,000 troops in Iraq, who are there to satiate the administration’s obsession with Iran.
Soldiers who were children when the Afghanistan war began are dying. It’s well past time to bring all of our troops from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq home.
My uncle fought in Vietnam. After his deployment, he called my grandmother and said she needed to do everything possible to ensure that my father, who was several years younger, did not eventually find himself sent to South Asia. An easy way to avoid the draft would have been enrolling in college, but in Appalachian Ohio in the 1970s, college wasn’t exactly an option for everyone.
Fortunately, the Vietnam War ended before my father was eligible for the draft, so it was a bridge they never had to cross. I’m not sure what my uncle’s thoughts were when he made that phone call — he died in the mid-90s, so I never got to ask. But it’s reasonable to assume he thought there was something wrong about what the US was doing overseas, and wanted to spare his brother the risk of dying in a pointless war.
We assume that American soldiers die in defence of our rights and freedoms, as they protect us from existential threats. We thank veterans for their service and revere the dead as martyrs. By and large, we never dig deep into why they actually fight and die. After all, no grieving mother wants to think her child gave their life for nothing. But in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, that’s exactly what’s happening.