It’s difficult to equate human lives with cost but it’s impossible at times not to at least mention both in the same sentence. America now finds itself at war in Afghanistan for the 17th consecutive year. American warriors have suffered over 2,300 lives lost and over 20,000 wounded. A trillion dollars later (45 billion last year alone) and it’s as though it was just another wave splashing ashore from our two great Oceans. Three presidents have seen fit to keep kicking the can in a continuing effort to thwart the Taliban in their insurgency in Afghanistan. Gain some ground, lose some ground, push in, push out, the seemingly never ending theme is beginning to look like we might be falling into a familiar trap.
Steve Chapman a member of the Tribune editorial board asked this question in his blog. “Why are we still in Afghanistan? Why indeed. The Taliban has no Navy they have no Air force, they have no 2 million dollar fighter planes but they do have something that should have given our American leaders pause. Mr Chapman recalls a conversation between the North Viet Nam Ambassador and a New York Times reporter early in the Viet Nam war. “How long do you want to fight Mr Sailsbury, one year? two years? three years? five years? ten years? twenty years? “We shall be glad to accommodate you.” A chilling reminder for any American who remembers past colossal blunders. Fifty eight thousand American hero’s paid with their lives in the name of Patriotism and freedom. A lesson that should never have been forgotten. And yet we are 17 years into a seemingly never ending struggle thousands of miles from our Country .
George Washington was given credit for the saying “the best way to win a war is to be prepared for war, and the first step is to know the enemy.” The Taliban have no illusions about winning a war with America, but almost anyone who has studied Von Clausewitz “On War” or SunTzu’s “The Art of war” knows very well that an enemy who is indifferent to the outcome of a battle, is the most dangerous enemy. Our Generals surely know that, the question is, do our elected leaders know that? Without question the Taliban, like the North Vietnamese, are exactly that, the Taliban have a saying that “The Americans have all the watches, and we have all the time.” Sound familiar?
Of course it’s difficult as I said to mention human lives and cost together but lets just ask ourselves especially those folks who live in and around Chicago. Who are the biggest threats to our citizens lives? Is it the Evil Taliban or the Gang Thugs in Chicago. Fighting the Taliban in a foreign country for 17 years has cost the American people a trillion dollars, 45 billion last year alone and growing, over 2,300 American lives lost, over 20,000 casualties. Startling numbers in both human lives lost and cost.
That said, Chicago has endured since 2012 (7 years ) as compared to 17 years of the war in Afghanistan, over 4,000 souls murdered, and over 23,000 people wounded. The Taliban are an evil pack of killer thugs but they are not killing Chicagoan’s, nor are they a threat to our civility in Chicago, but the Gang thugs most assuredly are, and it seems there is no end in sight. A Bloomberg News analysis in December of 2017 put the cost of Chicago’s violence at a staggering $2.5 billion dollars a year. The multi billion dollar figure breaks down to $2,500 dollars per household according the Jens Ludwig and Craig Futterman from the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab.In short everyone is being affected one way or another.
The big question our leaders need to hear is why the hell are we 7,000 miles away fighting and dying and spending billions when right before our noses a war on our own people is taking place? It’s not the evil Taliban killing our woman, children, seniors, infants or anyone else who happens to be in the way. The gang killers are the true enemy we should be making war on. We need to wise up and our so called leaders need to either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.
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