A Decade of War: The Human Cost

Friday, October 7, 2011 will mark a decade of war for the United States. On October 7, 2001 President George W. Bush addressed the nation and launched a war in Afghanistan. In response to the attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States chose a path of military violence rather than trying to understand the root cause of the violence. In his speech the President said, “Initially, the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places. Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice.” Peaceful engagement was abandoned for vengeful action. However, the U.S. quest for “justice” came with a heavy price for the Afghan people.

Gozarah district in Herat Province. Photo by U.S. Air Force TSgt Laura K. Smith

Ten years later Afghans continue to endure an ongoing war that is seemingly endless. While President Bush and later President Obama have both assured the nation and the world that Afghan civilian lives will be protected, civilians have in fact borne the brunt of the violence. In 2010 alone more than 2,777 civilians were killed, a 15 percent increase from previous years. And 2011 is on track to be the deadliest year for Afghan lives.

A decade of war with mounting deaths on all sides of the conflict raises serious questions about the legitimacy of this ongoing and bloody war. Justice through military action remains elusive.

Take some time this week to pray. Pray for the thousands of Afghan families who have lost loved ones. Pray for those who have been injured and displaced from their homes. Pray for our leaders that they will choose a path of peace; life rather than death.

Read Not by Sword or Spear: The U.S. Role in Afghanistan, Spring 2011 issue of the Washington Memo.

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