In his attempt to console the nation and comfort the families of the recently fallen 30 in Afghanistan, President Obama said: “We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values they embodied.”
It is difficult to draw inspiration from their lives because I did not know a single one of them, or for that matter have I been personally acquainted with any fallen soldier since David Fisher lost his life in Vietnam decades ago. While I am sure that these latest dead did possess noble virtues in the lives they led, any possibility of seeing their virtuous dramas play on is now gone forever.
I was certain when David died as his post was attacked, that his death was not ignoble but certainly unnecessary. Subsequent analysis of the Vietnam War only serves to affirm my conviction that David died in vain, as did the 58,000+ of his comrades. I am no less certain now that these latest 30 have also died in vain, as have their fellow-fallen. Their deaths have accomplished nothing. We are as mired in Afghanistan’s tribal and civil conflict as we were when George W. Bush took his eyes off that prize to fix his attention on an oil prize, under the guise of a preemptive assault against some very elusive weapons of mass destruction.
It is no comfort to families or nation to keep on wasting lives and money on a conflict the outcome of which is almost certainly to follow the precedent of the defeat of the USSR in its attempt to put Afghanistan under its control. Lincoln could speak at Gettysburg about ‘these dead not having died in vain.’ What we seem to forget is that such words can be spoken in serious homage only when it is evident that something happened following their deaths that could be attributed to their sacrifice. Such homage can only be paid after a war and the restoration of civility and peace.
It is long past time to get out of Afghanistan and end our war there.