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Joan Wile

Joan Wile is the Founder of Grandmothers Against the War and the author of "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)

June 28th, 2010 5:21 PM

We Need a Change of Policy, Not a Change of Generals

An Ordinary, non-Expert Grandmother's Take on the War in Afghanistan

I have no expertise about politics, military matters, diplomacy, and all the other things that go into making informed decisions about war and peace.  But, it really doesn't take a nuclear physicist to see that we are committing a huge blunder by continuing to fight in Afghanistan.

I am quite disappointed in President Obama -- I was a very enthusiastic supporter of his campaign for the Presidency and continued to believe in him for a long time after he took office.  It was a struggle, let me tell you, because he kept making decisions that I thought were not good ones.  But, still I clung to my faith in him.

The day after the McChrystal resignation, the thread of belief finally broke.  I listened to him utter empty platitudes galore about "our brave fighting men and women" and his "deep distress when he must send them into battle," but "his conviction that their sacrifices are made for a just cause."  Where have I heard this before?

I fault myself for swallowing his rhetoric in the beginning.  He told us he wanted to end the war in Iraq so we could focus on Afghanistan in order to defeat Al Qaeda.  In my enthusiastic desire to see him become President, I let those words slide by me without analyzing them.

But, that rationale, it's clear to me now, has no basis in fact at this juncture.  We all know that Al Qaeda is no longer physically headquartered in Afghanistan but concentrated in Pakistan.  In any case, Al Quaeda is an idea as much as an organization, and it takes root wherever there are disaffected young people angry at the United States for what they perceive as unwarranted invasions of their lands and the killing of their people.  How do you defeat an idea by killing people?

So, then, why the hell (yes, grannies swear, too) don't we get out of Afghanistan?  Why are we allowing our young military men and women to increasingly die in that God-forsaken country for misty, ambiguous reasons which can't be substantiated?

All this hoopla about the replacement of General McCrystal with General Petraeus doesn't impress me in the slightest.  So what?  My God, the Government-media complex is adept at painting over the real issues with fluff, isn't it?  If ever there were a non-issue, this is it.  We are asked to seriously weigh the appropriateness of one General over the other and to deliberate the wisdom of Obama's choice, thereby skillfully obliterating the REAL consideration -- should we stay or get out of Afghanistan?

We are asked to applaud Obama's decisiveness and commitment to maintaining his policy in Afghanistan.  But, we are not asked to question his judgment in continuing to pursue that policy.

I know I speak for the growing legions of anti-war activist grandmothers I associate with -- Grandmothers Against the War, Grandmothers for Peace, the Raging Grannies, and the Granny Peace Brigade -- when I say that here's one elderly, ordinary grandma who is decidedly questioning that policy and who is asking that President Obama firm up his guts, aim directly for his moral center, have the courage to admit he is wrong, and take our exhausted kids out of that Hell Hole and bring them home to us.

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