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Time to bring troops home from Afghanistan

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For 153 years, the Watertown Daily Times has endured, during the rise of multiple alternative news media, to serve Northern New York and what is now Fort Drum through nine wars.

For those who may have missed it, I believe the May 4 editorial, “The List Grows,” required honesty and courage. Some local readers appear to love our wars more than our warriors and would have the wars go on forever. The editorial provided a sane alternative and is required reading if America as we know it is to return to the greatness we once enjoyed.

“The List” is of the 300-plus names of local and Fort Drum troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the Times calls “the brutal costs of war.” Back home, trillions of dollars for war drain our economy and neglect our infrastructure by hitting “families, who find it difficult to make ends meet. There are not enough jobs ...

“Many local schools are facing financial crises, and our roads and bridges are crumbling right before our eyes,” the editorial said.

Of Afghanistan, the Times continued, “we have no clue when our participation in this conflict will draw to a close. ... Sadly, suspicions that we would embroil ourselves in a trap from which we could never escape are looking more accurate.”

The editorial concludes: “we must work vigorously toward the goal of ensuring that no more names are added to the list of war dead.” I wonder if the editor’s patriotism was questioned, subscriptions canceled or advertising withdrawn.

Thousands of members of Veterans For Peace demonstrated, and hundreds were arrested, for peacefully protesting at the Obama White House against the Iraq War in 2010 and 2011. The Associated Press covering these events didn’t mention patriotism, but we finally left Iraq and no more young Americans die there today.

Two and a half years after we left there, the Sunnis and Shia slaughter each other as they would if we left there 20 years from now. The Afghan warlords will do the same whenever we leave that place.

The VA was already stretched to the limit with patients from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm when Iraq and Afghanistan produced 405,000 plus, new medical and psychiatric military discharges, and countless more whose symptoms showed up later. Predictably, the VA is now in crash mode.

If we can’t do better by our vets, we better stop making more vets. And if you’re not already part of the solution to helping our vets, you’re already part of the problem.

We must bring all our troops home from Afghanistan and care for them. Let’s honor the warriors but not the wars. Others will still question our patriotism. Knock yourselves out. Instead, why don’t you figure out how to checkmate Mr. Putin without putting boots on the ground? If you insist Ukraine’s worth fighting for, why not go yourself?

Roland Van Deusen


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