Tonight I was reading what seemed like a genuine good news story: Obama is to announce Wednesday the schedule for pulling the surge troops out of Afghanistan. Various options are being considered, but things seem to be settling around getting most or all 30,000 out by the end of 2012.
Then I get to the end of the article and I learn that that actually leaves 68,000 soldiers there. Which is more than when Obama entered office.
Ridiculous. Shame on me for not knowing that we have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. It's so easy to ignore the issue and pretend it's not there.
I don't blame Obama, of course. He's cleaning up the other guy's mess. But damnit, we need to end this thing.
I watched Restrepo the other day, which was co-directed by Tim Hetherington, who was recently killed in Libya covering that war. It's like a non-fiction version of The Hurt Locker. I keep thinking of the horrible things we're putting these kids through -- experiences that will stay with them and scar them forever.
And then I think of my Dad, and all he probably went through in Vietnam. The things he did and saw. The Agent Orange that his body absorbed and has been identified as a possible factor in his prostrate cancer (which, ironically, has been the very least of his problems). The jury's still out on whether it contributed to his early-onset Alzheimer's.
Of course, that's the physical damage. In a cruel sort of mercy he's also been relieved of whatever emotional/mental burdens he carried home. I wrote this the other day on Facebook. I don't think it's a particularly original thought, but it says what I've been feeling:
Really upbeat, I know.
On this Father's Day, thinking of all the fathers and sons (and mothers and daughters) we send off to fight our wars. For the warriors, the war never ends. They all come back wounded in one way or another. Only the dead find peace.