Our VoiceNews & Politics

The Endless, Surreal War Grinds On and On


Rev. David L. Ostendorf • Mar 04, 2009

All the emergency vehicles in town were on the streets, lights flashing. Police and Sheriff cars were rolling in. Cars were parked everywhere and crowds lined the sidewalks for a close view. Cameras rolled for footage to be used on the Sunday evening news.

The 652nd Engineering Company was leaving town once again for Iraq and the endless, surreal war.

The buses rolled out accompanied by sirens, cheers, tears, and final goodbyes from those on flag-bedecked streets—loved ones and residents honoring those on their way to yet another deployment. For hundreds of families another chapter in the saga of the all-too-real war had begun.

From the countryside and from cities across the land deployment of reserves and guard units continues without letup. After seven years there are no protests to speak of. The men and women who leave homes and jobs and communities to join the fray may as well be going on extended work assignment in a distant place, except for those who bid them farewell, keep them close at heart, and pick up the pieces of lives and families waiting for an end that never seems to come. For most of the nation the war is old news, assigned to brief stories deeper in the papers now and, it seems, further out of mind than ever.

While the worsening financial crisis threatens to completely unravel the nation’s economic structure, the war in Iraq and now Afghanistan is unraveling whatever is left of the moral structure of a nation that seems unable or unwilling to come to grips with that war’s human and financial cost. For a nation wracked for two generations by the ghosts of Vietnam, there seems to be no remembrance. The absence of political protest speaks louder than any street demonstration ever aimed at Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon. Democratic control of the White House and Congress has done little to change the catastrophic equation penciled by George W. Bush. The silence is deafening. Electoral victory and the promised end of the war has succumbed to the financial crisis and to the intoxication of the Beltway.

The matter does not rest in D.C. alone. It rests squarely among those who used the ballot box last November for change, but whose silence since has yielded an unsatisfying “consensus” by the Congress and the Administration. By August of 2010 two-thirds of U.S. troops will be out of Iraq, while some 50,000 remain indefinitely. The consensus was reached, reported the Associate Press, “largely because conditions in Iraq have improved and pubic outcry on the war has been far less acute.” Unfolding plans for a concurrently expanding role for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the quagmire of all quagmires, do not bode well for an end-plan in the foreseeable future.

The endless, surreal, and very real war must come to a close. Call. Write. Too many lives have been lost and continue to be lost. Hundreds of thousands of families have been and continue to be impacted. A trillion or more dollars will have been spent. Bring ‘em home.

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