Northern New York Newspapers
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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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We haven’t learned lesson of past wars


As the Watertown Daily Times and others have reported, President Obama addressed the United Nations in September. His most telling comment was, “Iraq taught us that democracy cannot be imposed on another nation from without, through military force.”

Now he tells us! Who at Fort Drum or elsewhere wants to be the last American to die for the same mistake in Afghanistan? Too bad we didn’t learn this from Vietnam.

The Afghan government now wants us to keep 15 to 20 thousand U.S. troops there another decade. And how many more dead Americans?

We deploy our military again and again until their number’s up or their humanity withers. We raised these concerns, meeting with our congressman’s staff in November.

In World War II, the German and Japanese populations and leadership had been bombed into submission, and our draft gave us large-standing armies to occupy them for a quarter century until democracy took hold. Today, flattening entire cities like we did in World War II would bring charges of war crimes against us. Ending the draft in 1972 got Nixon re-elected, and no politician wants to end his career by trying to bring back the draft.

We celebrated Veterans Day, forgetting it was originally called Armistice Day, a celebration of peace. Today peace seems like a forgotten dream, almost a dirty word to some.

Our kids under 18 have no idea what an America at peace looks like. Do they know that half our newest veterans are applying for medical or psychiatric disability? Or that households with disabled vets disproportionately fall below the poverty line?

If we never learn from our mistakes, forget or don’t care, we’ll someday soon no longer have, nor deserve, the military we might need. Our troops can only take so much abuse, and our veterans can only endure so much neglect. I hope the breaking point doesn’t come during my lifetime.

Our spending years training Afghan troops notorious for ambushing us, despite the commander-in-chief saying this sort of mission is futile, is insanity.

Roland Van Deusen


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