20 years of war

The United States is marking the end of the nearly twenty years of war in Afghanistan, part of the wider “War on Terror” which began after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Although there were those of us who opposed a military response at the time – I vividly recall our group standing near the perimeter of the traffic circle beside our church with signs against war and people driving by honking in agreement – the war began, followed later by the war in Iraq which took a lot of attention and resources away from Afghanistan, which is I think part of the reason the war there went on for twenty years.

I am saddened by so much loss of life, injury, and damage incurred, especially among civilians. I am grateful that many Afghans, especially ethnic minorities, women, and girls, were able to enjoy more freedom and access education, sports, and jobs due to the presence of the United States and allied forces. Unfortunately, many of those gains are being lost because the Afghan government was not strong enough to stand on its own. With the Taliban back in charge, many of the gains and protections for women and minorities have dissolved. I must admit to being perplexed with people who thought that the final withdrawal from Kabul was like the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. I am old enough to remember that, when the military evacuated from Saigon, they did not take Vietnamese civilian partners, translators, and related personnel and their families with them. They did not even try to evacuate the children of US service members who faced hardship because there were mixed race. Over a period of years, some of these former South Vietnamese allies were able to flee the country and re-settle in the United States but it was not because they were evacuated by the US. They made their own way to refugee camps or set out to escape by boat.

In contrast, the United States was able to evacuate over 65,000 Afghan civilians with thousands more evacuated by other countries. While this is by no means all the people who were in need of evacuation, it is much better than the situation in Vietnam in 1975. The US State Department is continuing to work at getting more people out of Afghanistan, as others work on getting people processed and re-settled in the US and other countries.

We will never know what might have happened if the United States had tried to deal with the aftermath of 9/11 through diplomatic rather than military means. Perhaps so much of the weight of response would not have fallen on Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding, and more on Saudi Arabia, whence fifteen of the nineteen hijackers came. None of the hijackers were Afghanis.

I don’t know what will become of Afghanistan. It has been a place of turmoil for centuries. I do hope that the money that has been previously used to make war will be re-allocated to peaceful purposes to help people and the planet survive and thrive.

We can hope.

SoCS: saying what you mean

I try to say what I mean without ever being mean.

Some people would call that being diplomatic.

I am dedicated to being truthful and I do believe that facts are important and exist independently of opinions.

I get perturbed when people confuse fact and opinion. I do, however, always try to respond in a civil way, even if someone is not being civil in their own remarks.

And, if nothing else, I rely on the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing.” I remember learning this as a song when I was seven or eight. Fifty years later, it is still useful advice.
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “mean(s)”. Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/11/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-



I just heard a report that Trump is considering the current and the former CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson and Lee Raymond, as possible choices for Secretary of State.

I am having trouble wrapping my head around this.

It is absolutely stunning to think that anyone could think that either of these men is qualified to be the chief diplomat of the United States.

It smacks of oligarchy, not democracy.

340 US rabbis: ‘We support this historic nuclear accord’ | National Catholic Reporter

In this post, I expressed my support for the nuclear deal with Iran. I so appreciate these rabbis from the United States expressing their support, especially after the announcement by one of my US Senators, Charles Schumer, that he would oppose the deal. I hope the support of these rabbis will help him to change his mind.

340 US rabbis: ‘We support this historic nuclear accord’ | National Catholic Reporter.


Earlier this month, after long negotiations, a deal was announced between Iran and a group of six nuclear powers to exchange lifting of international economic sanctions against Iran in return for Iran’s abandoning all attempts to enrich uranium anywhere close to weapons grade.

This news was met with celebration in Iran, where the populace has been dealing with a crippled economy. Many people are looking forward to being able to get better jobs and better access to goods and services that many of us take for granted.

While not celebrating in the streets, I and many other folks in the US are happy that an agreement was reached and hope that the US Congress will lend their support. Frankly, if they don’t, all it will do is make the United States look unreliable. The international sanctions will be lifted even if US ones imposed by Congress stay in place, while, worse yet, the Iran nuclear program would once again be free of international inspection and constraint.

I trust that the US’s lead negotiator, Secretary of State John Kerry, has reached a deal that is verifiable and will keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. I am grateful that the team also included Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz, who is an MIT nuclear physicist. It is hard to imagine a better person to have in the room during negotiations on this topic. When he says that the Iranians could not clean a site of nuclear materials during the time that the agreement allows them to delay on inspection, I believe him. He definitely knows how to detect nuclear particles, even in tiny amounts.

I am old enough to remember Iran before the revolution that brought about the Islamic Republic. As a child, I remember hearing about the Shah of Iran and thinking of the country as a friend and ally of the US. Knowing that it had once been Persia, it also seemed very exotic to a small town New England girl. I did not know until much later the shenanigans that the US had pulled to overturn the democratically elected government and place the Shah in power.

When the revolution came in 1979, I was in my first year at Smith. It happened that a woman living in my house was the daughter of an Iranian diplomat. It was heart-wrenching to see her lose her homeland and see her fear for her family’s safety. Fortunately, they were able to escape the country unharmed.

In the following decades, it seems that many of the Iranian people have remained friendly toward Westerners, even though the government was not.  I hope that this agreement will help promote diplomacy over war and continue on the path toward nuclear disarmament.

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