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The Afghanistan Papers and a Mother’s Question

Note: this article was originally published by Common Dreams on Feb. 3, 2020.
The Washington Post recently released the Afghanistan Papers, which are internal government documents that exposed the lies told to the American people, documenting early on that the Afghanistan War was a debacle and could not be won.  Yet, our government chose to continue that war now in its 19th year.

As the mother of an infantry officer who served in Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, at the height of President Obama’s surge, I have a question:  How do three Presidents and top military leaders responsible for the Afghanistan War, justify their actions to those mothers who lost a child for no good reason?

Our government, and those who enable endless war, have clearly shown us what they think of our military men and women, the ones they proclaim to honor and respect—that, in fact, their lives are disposable, and can be simply thrown away, sacrificed for lies, unwilling to admit the Afghanistan war could not be won, damn the consequences.

As the Afghanistan Papers clearly outline, lies were told to benefit ladder climbing officers, falsely documenting progress on their watch, when none was made.  And lies were told by our government leaders, on both sides of the aisle, who knew, or should have known that the war was futile. And the arms makers made a killing off of killing, raking in billions of dollars, year after year.  They were just fine with the concept of endless war and endless profits. All of this is despicable and disgraceful. Those in power have deeply betrayed our military men and women.

These facts are just another way to continually torture families who lost a loved one, or whose family member returned home from war broken, physically and mentally.

And to add more insult to injury, Congress overwhelmingly approved, in the wake of these horrendous revelations, the ever-increasing Pentagon budget of $738 billion.

Also, the U.S. has dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in 2018 and 2019 than at any other time since the war began. In 2019 alone, the US dropped 7,423 separate munitions on Afghanistan targets representing a dramatic increase in bombings since President Barack Obama’s “surge” in 2010, when 5,101 bombs were dropped. These bombings have greatly increased civilian casualties. And to what end? Killing civilians is the most effective recruitment tool, creating more enemies determined to fight America.

So, for the record—we have documented proof that the U.S. government has gone to war for lies in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  And these lies have cost the lives of at least 66,000 U.S. troops and the lives of well over a million civilians.

How can we ignore these facts?  Where is our humanity? Where is our anger?

The war in Afghanistan is criminal, the horrors outlined in the Afghanistan Papers demand accountability. Congressional hearings must be held and the Afghanistan War must end now.

We must stop the killing, take the trillions of dollars devoted to endless war and instead invest in our people, invest in our environment, and invest in our future.

Stop the Madness—No More War.

Mary Hladky is a long-time member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) which is a UFPJ member group. She began her work with United for Peace & Justice in 2010 as a member of the Afghanistan Working Group and been a member of the UFPJ Administrative Committee since 2012. She is also vice chair of PeaceWorksKC.

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