By the time the dust clouds had settled, 2,740 Americans were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. In the days that followed, military retaliation was inevitable. The only question was where the first bombs would be dropped.
Our sights were soon set on Afghanistan, a small, poor and previously insignificant (at least to the vast majority of Americans) nation in the Middle East. Many justifications for swift military actions were used.
Chief among them were that Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, was hiding somewhere in the mountains there near the Pakistani border. For further justification, U.S. officials pointed to the need to remove the oppressive Taliban from power (never mind the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia).
No matter what the reasons were, our nation was thirsty for revenge and gladly embarked on a campaign to satisfy its bloodlust.
Before long, President Bush and his dream team of ineptitude upped the ante by bringing Iraq into the discussion. Saddam Hussein and his regime were purportedly housing weapons of mass destruction. In an attempt to garner more public support for expanded military action, Bush and his cronies desperately tried to connect Hussein to terrorism.
We now know that this was all a lie. The anger of many Americans towards the United Nationsâ€™, and particularly Franceâ€™s (anyone remember â€œFreedom Fries?â€), opposition to the war in Iraq proved to be wholly unjustified.
Here we are almost a decade and more than $1.1 trillion later. Thereâ€™s no arguing that 9/11 was one of the greatest tragedies this country has ever faced. But when is enough finally going to be enough?
The combined death toll from 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror is approaching 9,000 American lives. This number seems staggering until you consider the fact that at least 920,000 Iraqis and Afghanis have been killed since the start of the war on terror. Even more disturbing is that the majority of those killed are civilians, just like on 9/11.
What makes these statistics most troubling is that all of these lives have been lost in an unwinnable war. It doesnâ€™t matter how many troops we send, how many bombs we drop, how much money we spend or how long we stay. A â€œwar on terrorâ€ is a war that canâ€™t possibly be won. No matter what we do militarily, there are always going to be extremists that want to inflict harm to Americans and our way of life.
When people like me take a stand against the war on terror, weâ€™re immediately accused of being â€œun-Americanâ€ or that we donâ€™t â€œsupport the troops.â€ These are hollow, baseless charges. Itâ€™s because people in the anti-war camp care about the well being of our troops that weâ€™d prefer them here at home where they can safely be with their families.
While I know that itâ€™s a naÃ¯ve pipedream, I would love to see our troops back on American soil where they would be much more effective at keeping us safe and preserving our way of life than they could ever hope to be in Afghanistan.
I was raised to believe that the value of life is equally inherent in all people regardless of race, sex, nationality or religious affiliation. Ignoring the vast discrepancies in casualtyâ€™s smacks of arrogance and ethnocentrism.
If this idea is offensive to you, maybe you should take a minute to think about it. Do you really want to stand by the claim that your life is somehow more valuable than anotherâ€™s based simply on where you were born? The color of your skin? How much money youâ€™re worth?
Joe Vajgrt is a junior that gets kinda bummed from thinking about this stuff and could use a hug. Also, heâ€™s studying journalism. His column appears on Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.