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The United States of America is reaping the inevitable harvest of two decade-long wars in Muslim Asia -- thousands of men and women returning home without homes, without jobs, and with a life of psychiatric and physical torment ahead of them.
And a harvest of the addicted -- the war that still lingers is in Afghanistan, one of the world's centers of opium cultivation which is converted into heroin export profits. (Afghan heroin tends to supply Europe; USA heroin tends to come from Southeast Asia, chiefly Myanmar.)
Strategically, both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars accomplished worse than nothing for the interests of the United States. Both wars were declared by President George W. Bush. (The USA Constitution specifies that the power to declare war rests exclusively with the USA Congress.)
Our war in Iraq has left Iraq unable to govern itself, skating on the thin ice of ethnic-religious civil war, with little evidence that this will stabilize and improve.
In Afghanistan, only Kabul is in the control of the puppet Karzai government the USA installed. The rest of the huge nation is, however reluctantly, at the mercy of the Taliban. USA military forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan in 2014.
The USA and coalition allies invaded Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, making the Afghanistan war the longest war in USA history.
Both wars were ruinously costly, and are leading factors in the USA and global economic catastrophes of the past eight years.
I'm a US Army veteran of the Vietnam War era -- or, as I like to call it, the First Silly Long War.
Don't worry, I was never sent anywhere near a combat zone. I won medals for fast, accurate typing. and kissing Headquarters ass. (Officers like it anti-clockwise.) When it was all over, I received a very nice thank-you letter from my Commander-in-Chief President Richard M. Nixon.
If you're a USA citizen, perhaps you've wondered what you can do for our military veterans.
That's easy: Stop our string of pre-lost Asian and African wars.
Reward all elected politicians who oppose these wars.
Punish and fire all elected politicians who shrilly call for new patriotic American wars.
After the unimaginable slaughter and destruction of World War One, the exhausted combatants grudgingly agreed to silence their guns at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 along the Western Front (mostly France and Belgium).
In UK / Commonwealth nations, this date has since been observed as Remembrance Day. In the USA it was originally called Armistice Day, but in the 1950s was re-named Veterans Day, to honor all who served in the military in all American wars.
If we really gave half a rat's ass about the young men and women who have served in our military, we would stop sending them to pooch-screwing overseas wars where they are killed by the thousands, and maimed by the tens of thousands. (About 58,000 military members were killed during the Vietnam War. I knew a couple of them, they were my boyhood friends.)
The above eagle is a spectacularly handsome piece of wood folk art that graced the home of a neighbor. (I love the skunks almost as much as the American Eagle.)
What lessons should Americans have learned from the pooch-screwing pre-doomed endless ruinously expensive wars of my adult lifetime?
1. The USA (the world's most powerful military) hasn't won a war or soundly defeated an enemy since 1945. The USA is good, sometimes wonderful, at lots of things -- music, movies, space exploration -- but war isn't one of them.
2. Restore the military draft -- universal military conscription. We need men (and women, as they do in Israel) from all economic and ethnic sectors, from the rich, from the poor, from the well-educated, as political hostages. This will deter jingo war-happy flag-waving politicians from playing War Poker with other peoples' chips -- with the sons and daughters of the politically powerless.
I personally wish people would stop saying "Thank you for serving." It's cheap, meaningless lip service, like the display on the microwave oven that says ENJOY YOUR MEAL. We use our patriotic feelings for our military men and women ceaselessly to sell cheap beer in television commercials.