Speaking recently at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Conference, President Barack Obama reportedly said in regard to the war in Afghanistan: "…. This is not a war of choice, this is a war of necessity ". Wrong! It was a war of choice when former President George Bush launched it in 2001; it remains a war of choice for President Obama.
There is absolutely no justification for having thousands of American soldiers and thousands of Afghans killed and maimed just to wreak vengeance on the Taliban for 9/11. One would think the U.S. military or somebody could develop some means of confronting the Taliban and Al Qaeda without having to slaughter others in the process.
I have said it before and I will say it again - the reason that this war and the Iraq war continues is that nearly all the soldiers being slaughtered come from low-income and working class Black, Latino, and White families. If the children of Presidents Bush and Obama, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol, Laura Ingram, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Brit Hume, David Axelrod, and other upper-income warmongers were being killed and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan, these wars would have long since ended.
Those low-income and working class people who so willingly allow their children to be used as cannon fodder should note the following two quotes from participants in another war that we were told repeatedly was vital to the security of the U.S. The first was reportedly made by General William C. Westmoreland at a Fall 1993 forum on the Vietnam War held at Hampton-Sydney College in Virginia. "In the scope of history," noted the General who commanded American forces in Vietnam from 1964 – 1968, "Vietnam is not going to be a big deal. It won't float to the top as a major endeavor."
In other words, nearly 200,000 of American soldiers and several million Vietnamese being killed and maimed in the Vietnam war was not a big deal and won't float to the top as a major endeavor.
The second quote is from a letter written to his parents by a young Black soldier killed in Cambodia in the early 1970's. It was published in Jet Magazine. "If you are reading this letter, you will never see me again, the reason being that if you are reading this I have died. The question is whether or not my death has been in vain. My answer is yes. The war that has taken my life and many thousands before me is immoral, unlawful and an atrocity unlike any misfit of good sense and judgment known to man. I had no choice as to my fate. It was predetermined by the war-mongering hypocrites in Washington…."
Journalist/Lecturer A. Peter Bailey, a former associate editor of Ebony, is currently editor of Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .