Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Weary of war

Once upon a time, we waged a War on Poverty and we were holding our own against a pernicious enemy.

The spoils of that war included Head Start, food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. Commander in Chief Lyndon Johnson brought about real, tangible results, reducing rates of poverty and improving living standards for the poor. But soon the Vietnam War took precedence over the War on Poverty and guns won out over butter—as they often do.

We now have another war, the War on Terror, in which it has become hard to know exactly whom we are fighting and whether the wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan are part of a global conflict.

Recently President Obama declared that it is time to bring 10,000 of our 100,000 troops home from one of those wars, that in Afghanistan. Next summer would bring home 20,000 more and troop reductions would continue until 2014 when Afghanistan will shoulder its own security.

Is that enough? There's no right answer to the question.

We hunted down Osama Bin Laden and killed him. We have done what we can do. Now we are moving into the unknown, where victory and defeat, and winning and losing become hard to discern, and war can become a never-ending event.

It's easier to get into a war than it is to get out. Ten years is a long time. The 6,000 dead, thousands wounded and the $1.3 trillion spent on the war, including in Iraq, are staggering costs.

Are our efforts enough to fulfill the president's goal of ensuring that al-Qaida or its affiliates have no safe haven in the world from which to launch attacks.

This war-weary country hopes so.

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