outline map of Afghanistan

(Trigger warning: Discussions of death and other horrors of war)

I can’t get the images of today’s horrors in Kabul out of my mind (especially, the people trying to grab onto the plane and the image of at least one person falling to their death — that level of desperation is hard to even fathom) — It feels so much like twenty years ago (less one month), when I was a grad student in San Marcos, Texas. I remember the horror of 9-11 vividly, and especially the images of people falling from the towers, having jumped to their deaths rather than be burnt alive. I also remember riding my bicycle to campus that day and rushing to write an op-ed for the campus newspaper, calling for peace. I was very new to peace activism (my first move towards peace happened the year or so before that), but I desperately wanted to do something to stop the train wreck that seemed so inevitable, but also preventable.

The war happened anyway and by December, I had moved back to Oklahoma, and in August of 2002 I started law school. All along the way I had a sense of urgency that in time led me to doing military defense law. I’ve tried along the way to keep working for peace, but also coming to grips more and more about the complicated nature of peace and war, and what it means to try to be an ethical person while living in the evil empire.

And now… where are we? There are no good solutions, no easy answers. I, of course, have long dreamed of the day that there would be no more US forces in Afghanistan (and for the eventual day when all US forces would leave leave all overseas posts), but we are still left with a fundamentalist religious takeover of a nation. Maybe the fundamentalists would have prevailed either way, but I can’t help but wonder if the legacy of both Soviet and US American imperialism created the perfect environment to allow fundamentalism to grow like a cancer.

And there’s also our nation’s veterans. Many died in combat, but many more died of suicide, of drunken car crashes, of so many other tragedies, and it was all preventable. Most of these veterans are good people, but who found themselves in terrible circumstances.

So where does that leave us…. I know some folks are calling for the US to go back in, but I also can’t help but note that the folks who are saying this, are not in the military and do not have kids in the military. It’s easy to say “America should do this…” when you don’t have any personal commitment.

I do think that the US should do its best to assist as many Afghanis as possible to come to this country and receive asylum, but that is also an incomplete answer. The odds are high that many of those who would be eligible for asylum will never be able to make it here.

And so we are left with incompleteness and sorrow. I wish so much that we would listen to these feelings and use them to motivate our nation to NEVER AGAIN go down the path of imperial interference in other nations, but I know that most will not listen.

And so it all continues.