Media reports suggest that President Obama is looking to declare victory and withdraw from Afghanistan, as he did from Iraq. The military commander in Afghanistan, General Joe Dunford, has said that he needs 10,000 US troops to accomplish the missions the president has said he wants to accomplish after this year.
“The fundamental fact that we all have to be aware of is, when we go to war now, we send less than 1 percent of our population to war and they’re all volunteers and many of them are from working-class environments. And in the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nothing was asked of the rest of us. We didn’t pay any additional taxes. We didn’t have to think about those wars if we didn’t have anyone involved. … It’s not just unjust, it’s kind of immoral for a democratic republic to go to war under those terms because those young men and women and their families are paying the high price. They’re coming home emotionally damaged or physically damaged or, too often, in body bags. And we’ve got to have a national consciousness about that.”
On this Memorial Day, as on others, every American will turn to his own thoughts and prayers, and recall his own favorite speeches, music, and poetry. Memorial Day has no one dominant "text." But for those who aren't familiar with it, I recommend Theodore O'Hara's poem, "Bivouac of the Dead," written in 1847 in memory of Kentucky troops killed in the Mexican War. Various lines are inscribed at different places in Arlington Cemetery, including at the McClellan Gate. It's not, I suppose, great poetry, but I've always found it moving.
White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked at today's press briefing, in the context of the Boston bombings, whether U.S. bombings in Afghanistan last month that killed civilians were "terrorism." Carney gave a long answer, but never says "no."
President Barack Obama gave a shout out last night at an Inaugural ball to our "comrades in arms" in Afghanistan. After hearing from troops in Afghanistan through a video a satellite, the commander in chief said, "I can tell you that you've got a room full of patriots here. And although I've got to admit that they're a little spiffied up right now -- their heart and soul, their dedication, their sense of duty is at one with every single one of the folks who are in Kandahar right now."
At a campaign rally for President Barack Obama yesterday in Virginia, former President Bill Clinton talked about bringing "this country together" and crossing "all of its diversity." Then, Clinton added this:
One of the minor disgraces of this year's campaign is that the presidential candidates act as if the war in Afghanistan doesn't exist. We have 84,000 troops fighting over there in very difficult circumstances; they've had a tough few weeks, with 41 killed in the last month, but the candidates barnstorm the country with barely a mention of the war or the troops.
As customers flock to Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country today to support the company, a talk radio listener shared an idea to extend the demonstration. From Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families: