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The Questions I Want Americans to Answer


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three comments


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In all of these cases, the answer for me is zero. There is no gain in any of those countries worth the death of an American soldier. Iraq was a shitshow from the start, it never should have happened, and Iran is the same. There’s no reason for war there. By the way the first question is framed, you’ve left me with an out in Afghanistan because going forward from this point, there is, in my opinion, no possible gain worth the loss of another soldier. However, if the question were posed in 2001, it is much tougher because I do think some military action was necessary. The answer for me then is 200, because that’s how many soldiers we lost through 2004. To me, 2004 was the perfect moment to exit—Karzai was elected, the Taliban defeated and AQ seriously deteriorated. We’ve been searching for a mission ever since. (This is all with the benefit of hindsight and time. I wouldn’t have said this in 2004, I don’t think.)


As a Marine officer veteran and a father of a Marine KIA Iraq in 2005, I have conflicting biases and duties. However,and a corollary to Keith above, many of us stated in 2004 AND prior that any number was wrong. I can state this without reservation in regard to the invasion, occupation, fight against an insurgency, surge, and eventual departure without accomplishment in Iraq. Yes, the Afghanistan combat action is more complicated. But I can easily fall back to the events of the Fall of 2001. No Taliban hijacked aircraft on 11Sept01, yes the hijackers trained in Afghanistan, but yes, there is evidence that if the contemporary government of the USA approached the events of 9/11 as a crime vice an inflated act of war, history obviously would be different. In short,Americans in 2001, large majority of them anyway, just blindly supported the National Rhetoric about the need for war and developed quickly a hands off policy regarding casualty numbers. Look at the fact that a large (relatively) number of female military KIA/WIA resulted from both OEF and OIF. The dialog in the previous decade included cries about how terrible it would be for women combat losses. After 9/11/01, that conversation ceased to exist. Americans embraced the early combat losses in Iraq and Afghanistan. The question really needs to be framed around strategy and troop levels—both concepts that have failed in the last decade. The mourning isn’t necessarily over the over count of KIA/WIA, but the dragged out stupidity of the conduct of both wars.


Keith and Derek. Thanks for your thoughts, and I wish more Americans were up front and honest about their feelings. I also wish we could have this conversation before the wars start, as opposed to years later.

And Keith, I think I misread your tweet online so I understand your stance better now with this comment.