The Afghanistan War's Tenth Year Must Be Its Last

October 10, 2010 starts year ten of the Afghanistan War. Almost a decade of war in one of the most unforgiving terrains in the world, for ends we can't define. Can anyone name a single way in which this war still serves the national interest, if it ever did? We talked to a group of veterans of the conflict, and their answer was a very clear, "no."

We've outsourced the conflict to a very, very tiny slice of the population: military members and their families. The level of individual personal involvement beyond this small group is near nil; indeed, most Americans outright oppose the war. Most Americans wish it would go away, while many veterans increasingly describe a war that's become unhinged from a national interest.

And yet, despite the non-involvement and outright disdain for the conflict among the American people, we're about to slide into Year Ten of this brutal, futile war that's not making us safer because our "leaders" can't find the courage to "lead" to a place where their constituents have been for months -- years, even. While hand-wringing, scared-to-be-called-weak politicians dither--no, while they run from the obvious will of the people--the military rank-and-file and their families are tearing themselves apart for us. 

Did you know, for example, that as their objectives continue to fail to materialize, the troop increases pushed by Generals McChrystal and Petraeus resulted in a huge increase in amputations among soldiers in Afghanistan? Who will pay the price for this catastrophe? Certainly not the general officer corps or the political class that sent these men and women into the meat-grinder. No, it will be the foot soldiers and their families who suffer, and, a distant second: the broader American people who will have to bear the social and economic costs (By the way, according to the experts, those costs will exceed a trillion dollars.)