Afghan Refugees, photo taken by Elizabeth Rubin
If you’re like any of the thousands of Americans who watched President Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday, December 1st, you’re probably struggling a bit with whether to be upset by the new plan of action, or content with it. Most people seem to be a little bit of both. He didn’t use words like “victory.” Instead he spoke about peace, understanding, and he tried to allow us to understand where exactly he was coming from. It was quite different from any other war speech i’ve heard, that’s for certain.
Sources such as the Los Angeles Times have a very cynical view of the whole effort:
“All a carefully-calculated, well-phrased tactical talk. But no words of winning a victory for the war’s immense dollar costs — $30 billion more just for the latest surge this fiscal year. Or for all the lives and limbs lost so far — and the additional losses yet to come, possibly from among his audience of young Army cadets.
Meaning what? This is really a holding action? The professorial president doesn’t expect victory? He’s uncomfortable with talk of actually winning a war that he’s sending more troops into?” (Source: The Los Angeles Times, December 2nd, 2009, Written by Andrew Malcolm )
Time Magazine, for example, is able to see the positive notes of his new strategy:
“The president laid out the circumstances where war is justified — in self-defense, to come to the aid of an invaded nation and on humanitarian grounds, such as when civilians are slaughtered by their own government or a civil war threatens to engulf an entire region.
“The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it,” he said.
He also emphasized alternatives to violence, stressing the importance of both diplomatic outreach and sanctions with teeth to confront nations such as Iran or North Korea that defy international demands to halt their nuclear programs or those such as Sudan, Congo or Burma that brutalize their citizens.”
(Source: Time Magazine, Thursday, December 10th, Written by AP/Ben Feller )
Time magazine in a recent article also compared Obama’s war plan to Nixon’s, though. The article reflected on how it seemed as though instead of bludgeoning our enemies to death, ( such as in a George Bush war strategy,) Obama has decided to try and make peace with them. It has been questionable whether this tactic is because Obama has a different set of agendas for the US, or whether it’s because we have finally realized that we simply cannot defeat terrorism altogether. Either way, in my opinion, anything is a better strategy than going into enemy lines and blowing up everything in sight. Although, some may argue that’s exactly what we’re doing anyway.
In a surprisingly in-depth and informative article written in Vogue Magazine, December Issue, 2009, war correspondent Elizabeth Rubin heads into the deepest and scariest parts of the war in Afghanistan, three months pregnant. Not only are her fellow soldiers not supportive, but while she’s in the front lines of the war, she gets to experience first-hand the women and children in Afghanistan who are dying in this war and what they really think about our efforts to invade their country and stop the Taliban:
This particular excerpt from her article sums up the environment that Rubin was living in and what message she is desperately trying to get across that she derived from her experiences. In this segment, she is in a hospital near the Pech River Valley in eastern Afghanistan with her troop, shortly after a routine bombing in order to attempt to rid the area of Taliban:
“There were other wounded women in the beds. One had lost her husband a year ago in a feud, and now her teenage son was killed in the bombing, and she was asking the doctor, me, anyone who’d listen. “Who will take care of me?” The doctor translated for them and then pursued me down the hall urging me to tell the Americans to please stop bombing their villages. “It’s too much, it’s too much.” he said. He was young with a creased, tired face and was craning his head to catch up with me. “Please,” he said. “Please tell them. They might listen to you. They won’t listen to us.”
I said that I would and i meant it and I knew it would make no difference. It was as a twelve year old girl asked me five years earlier in Kandahar, cursing and squirming in her hospital bed. She’d been playing in the courtyard at her sisters’ wedding when American gunships burst out of the night, killing her entire family. “Why do you bomb us and then come saying you’re sorry?”
(Source: Vogue Magazine, December 2009, Elizabeth Rubin)
This article hit me hard when I read it, and it also hit me that Rubin is right. It’s so easy to be blind to the innocent men, women, and children that we are killing in order to fulfill a conceptual prophecy of defeating the Taliban. Here in America, we spend millions of dollars and days in a courtroom to protect an innocent life. That is the standard we live by. Why, then, are we not able to maintain that standard around the world? Just because the war is on the other side of the earth where people speak a different language doesn’t waive our responsibilities as Americans and human beings to promote peace and justice.
I understand that the government believes this is necessary in order to protect our nation, but this insurgency plan of sending in 30,000 more troops comes at a pretty high price. Not only are we signing off for more innocent American soldiers to be killed, but also as we are attempting to establish a stable government in Afghanistan, we are destroying the lives and families of hundreds upon thousands of Afghan citizens, not to mention their horrific view of our nation and what we stand for. We may be scaring off some radical terrorists living in the mountains of the Middle East, but at what price? And how can we live on in the future promoting peace and non-violent understanding if we are taking so many innocent lives in order to keep that promise?
That’s all for now.
As always, keep reading, exploring, and learning everything you can.