We Are Still at War, Remember?

October 26, 2010

Artist: Carlos Latuff

(ChattahBox Op/Ed News) – War is no longer cool, I guess. For the past four election cycles, war, either in Iraq or Afghanistan was all the rage.  It was in the top two campaign issues and deservedly so.  Today’s news that Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein’s top deputies was sentenced to be hanged for crimes against humanity made news, but not BIG news, as it should.  It will be mentioned, but more in a passing way and in a way that makes me a bit uncomfortable, mostly because we still have thousands of Americans at war and in harms way.Since March 19, 2003 American military deaths in Iraq have reached 4426 and well over 100,000 have been wounded.  In Afghanistan 1352 U.S. soldiers have died in combat with many more wounded.  These are atrocious numbers that have been largely ignored the past few years and I find that very disturbing.

But the question to be asked is why have we seemingly forgotten the wars and the devastation?  Have we just surrendered to the fact that it’s there, we can’t change it and therefore it’s just time to move on?  God, I hope not!  But why is war no longer a part of the national discussion?

I’m not sure I have the answer to that disturbing question.  I’m certain that those that are serving are noticing and are damaged by it as well, as they should be.  Our sense of national outrage or support has waned, and it seems that like too many American problems, if they stay around long enough we just kind of assimilate to them and become apathetic.  How wrong!

I’m surely not suggesting that we don’t honor and appreciate the men and woman who have served their country and continue to serve their country, because we most certainly must; but what we don’t do is talk about it any more.  We don’t place our focus as we once did on finding a quick solution to getting them home safely.  We are now ignoring the cost to this country as a result of the service of our soldiers and when we finally do get them all home and start integrating them back into society what we will owe them, not just in terms of the GI Bill but the increasing demands they will make on the Veterans Administration.

We are deferring a critical conversation and critical planning for their return.  We will be and are ill prepared for the emotional and medical needs that will be their right.  We are no longer talking about the toll these two wars have taken on families all over this country, how many marriages ruined, how many children left motherless or fatherless, and how many of these men and women will come home to no jobs and no opportunities to provide for their families, if they still have families.

Why is this happening?  Why are we ignoring these men and women?  Why have we stopped talking about war and its impact?  Why?

Is it because the Republican’s know that the money that will have to be appropriated will be difficult to justify because of their constant positioning on increasing our debt load, all the while knowing that you can’t play politics on soldiers benefits, or can they?  Is it because partisan politics forced the political agenda in this country to deal with issues that weren’t real issues at all?  It is because it’s easier to embrace the out of sight out of mind mentality of most people?

And the candidates on both side of the aisle, or the three sides if you insist on including the Tea Party, no longer see war as an important campaign issue?  How about the idea/excuse that there are just bigger problems to deal with now and that war became yesterday’s news?

What does all this really say about the way we view our Military in this country.  The only Military discussion there has been in the news lately is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and that is hardly war news, is it?

Shame on us for forgetting the brave and courageous men and woman who continue to live in harms way.  Men and woman who are responsible for millions of lives and men and women who are still a witness to such horrid treatment and decay that they are forever scarred as witnesses to torture and depravity they experience daily.

Why are we ignoring the most critical issue in this country?

Let’s just take a deep breath and take a moment today to say a prayer for our troops.  Maybe you can donate to an organization that supports the troops instead of sending a political donation.  Maybe you can write letters to a service member thanking them for serving.  Maybe you can put together a care package to a soldier just for the hell of it and ask a few friends to do the same. Maybe you can just remember that there are still two wars being fought.

Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer.  He can be reached at tony@mediatony.com.

Photo: Wikimedia/ Artist: Carlos Latuff/On Iraq At The Fifth Anniversary of Invasion/Free Art License


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