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War.

I hate it. Always have, always will. Yet, for most of recorded history, war has been with us, and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

On Tuesday night President Obama announced that his strategy for trying to conclude at least one of the wars he inherited involves sending another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. It reminds me, in a very non-proportional way, of the ill-fated couple of years that I owned a small boat. Someone had told me that “BOAT” stands for “Bring Out Another Thousand.”

And another. And another. With war, the constant cost in added thousands is exponential. I’m not second-guessing the president. He didn’t ask for this war. I’m glad he’s thinking through each step very carefully, and I believe he’s doing the best he can to get us out of the quagmire of conflict, but I’m still bemoaning the cost — a cost that comes in lost lives, in broken families, in dollars down the drain.

I heard an estimate that the war cost could go to $75 billion per year. At some point, we’re going to have to pay for that. Who can say how many lives it will cost — how many families will be scarred? No amount of money will make those good.

I don’t have any advice for either the Pentagon or the president, but I have a prayer. In this season, a time in which at least one Advent tradition calls for the celebration of a Sunday of peace, I’m reminded that Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Mat. 5:9).

War works on many levels, and so does peace making. Both require a great deal of effort and often considerable risk. I’m aware that part of our forces’ agenda in Iraq and Afghanistan is to bring peace to unstable areas and to make peace with skeptical or unfriendly folks. In that role especially, may God bless the troops.

And may God bless all who work for peace and the wellness of the world.

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