"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Afghanistan - Finding Our Humanity


Into the ninth year of the Afghanistan occupation, and the numbers of dead U.S. soldiers keep ticking off - 800, 801, 802... 850 (as of 11/19, source: icasualties.org).  Each of these numbers has a face, and if you live in the U.S., you have very likely seen photos published in your local newspaper of soldiers from your state who died in Afghanistan (or Iraq).  Each loss is tragic, and as Howard Zinn once said, "every one of them was a person who deserved to live a full and successful and happy life. You see what was lost."  He was speaking of how, after the attacks of September 11, 2001, no effort was spared to put a human face on the story of those who died in those horrific attacks, not so much to remember each of the victims, but to stoke the fires of support for the Bush administration's plans to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.  But that statement applies to the loss of Afghan lives no less than the victims of 9/11 or U.S. soldiers.

Instead of embracing our humanity and mourning the loss of lives, the faces (of 9/11 victims) were lost to us in a whirlpool of powerful symbols of U.S. dominance and power in which we were drawn into the blood lust for revenge.  In that revenge we have caused the loss of lives of Afghans well beyond the numbers of U.S. and coalition lives lost.  But we (the Pentagon) do not keep a count of Afghanis killed in our occupation of their country, and rarely do we see the faces of their dead (or wounded).  The people of Afghanistan have faces too, and if we could see the faces of all the innocent men, women AND children killed, maimed or blinded, perhaps our own humanity would overwhelmingly take over, making us take to the streets to say, "ENOUGH KILLING!"

As President Obama prepares to announce his decision regarding the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, I hope that each of us will dig deep within to find our humanity, and choose to speak out and let the President know that it is time to stop the killing and create a just foreign policy related to Afghanistan (and the rest of the world).  There are many voices screaming at the President, advising him on what he should do in Afghanistan; to whom will he listen???  Will he find his humanity???

Call the White House today (Toll Free 1-888-310-8637, courtesy of Peace Action) and tell the President - NO MORE TROOPS! Humanity can't wait!  What are you waiting for?  Get on the phone!  It's much more powerful than an email (you may have to wait on the line just a bit).  And tell everyone you know to call!

Be prepared, however, to be disappointed by the President's announcement.  He may very well call for a surge of troops should he neglect to heed the lessons of history (of both Afghanistan and Vietnam).  Be prepared to take to the streets.  Check out Veterans for Peace CALL TO ACTION for more information. 

Hoping (and Working) for PEACE,


Photo Credit:  A wounded Afghan boy lies on a hospital bed in Kandahar September 29, 2009.

(REUTERS/Stringer).  Associated article:  No Refuge For Afghan Victims of Violence, in CommonDreams.org, October 26, 2009

Read Howard Zinn's thought provoking article, The Others, in The Nation, January 24, 2002.

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