December 29, 2011 - As 2011 ends, it is time to reflect upon continuing U.S. involvement in overseas wars and the impact that involvement has here at home. It is a good time to reflect on the role that protest played in getting us here and what those protests still want to achieve so the U.S. is genuinely safe and secure.
On Dec. 17, the last U.S. soldier was photographed leaving Iraq and the media proclaimed an end to the war which began on March 19, 2003 – almost nine years ago. The war cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $800 billion and claimed 4,483 U.S. soldiers’ lives. At the war’s height, the war in Iraq was costing taxpayers $12 billion each month.
Additionally, more than 1 million Iraqi civilians died, and 4.5 million became refugees. And during the last two years, more U.S. soldiers died by their own hands than in combat. On average, we lose 18 veterans to suicide each day.
So while it is important to mark the "official end" to the Iraq War, it is difficult to muster many cheers. Instead, it is critical to conduct an honest assessment of what happened.
First, we must acknowledge that U.S. presence in Iraq has not ended. The Project On Government Oversight argues that taxpayers will now provide funding for 14,000 to 16,000 contractors in Iraq. According to POGO, some of the companies who will provide contractors in Iraq - KBR, DynCorp and Blackwater - are in the POGO Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (www.contractormisconduct.org). All three contractors have extensive misconduct histories, yet they continue to operate.
Second, U.S. presence in Afghanistan remains – and may extend past 2014. According to a Dec. 20 article in the New York Times, the senior American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, suggested that American forces could remain in the country beyond 2014, despite increasing public opinion to withdraw forces from Afghanistan at an accelerated pace.
Lastly, we need to acknowledge the role that "The Protester," Time Magazine’s "Person of the Year," played in changing the course of this war, and what these protesters would like to see in 2012. read more>>>