Six years ago, Sunday, Oct. 7, was the day we buried my wife’s mother in the old cemetery in Farmersville, Texas. Following the burial services the family gathered for a late afternoon lunch. It was a time of remembering a fine lady and the best mother-in-law anyone could ask for.
Then, from the television set in the living room, came the noise of planes and bombing. Conversation stopped as we learned the United States had invaded Afghanistan in response to the hijacked airliners that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and some of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
American forces routed the Taliban regime, which was strangling Afghanistan, and the headquarters of al Qaeda, thought to be behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The years 2001 and 2002 were terrible days for the people of Afghanistan, as the war raged on. Today, six years later, the suffering of the Afghanis is greater than ever. From all accounts, this year has become the most violent year since 2001.
I imagine the Afghans feel like the Nez Perce Indian Chief Joseph felt when he surrendered 130 years ago to General Miles (Oct. 5, 1877). Chief Joseph spoke from his heart for his people.
“I am tired of fighting,” he said. “Our chiefs are killed…. The old men are all dead…. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets; no food. No one knows where they are; perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad.”
Taking the lands of the American Indians was another world compared to ours. But to all the souls that have endured the struggles of the ages it is the same. The hearts of men and women hurt the same as at the Crimean War, at Waterloo or on Pork Chop Hill.
There is really no difference. War is one thing that never changes, be it between the Greeks and the Persians, Israel and the Canaanites or India and Pakistan. The suffering cannot be calculated, but how we forget–the loss of loved ones, the crippling results, the missing, the fear from day to day of what is around the corner.
It is apparent that al Qaeda regrouped in the mountainous border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was far from being a defeated enemy. Those who keep up with such things tell us that casualties continue to grow.
Pulling American forces out of Afghanistan in order to invade Iraq in March 2003 has proved to be our undoing. The dreams of freedom and democracy for both countries have turned into a nightmare.
We forget that Iran helped in the invasion of Afghanistan. Iran’s help ceased with our invasion of Iraq. Back in the 1980s our government was on the side of Iraq in the 10-year Iran/Iraq War. Now, our elected comrades in the House and Senate (as well as a number of TV evangelists) are calling for an invasion of Iran. How stupid a thought!
We do not need to go very far back in history to see the results of power-hungry leaders–powerful men, even possibly with noble intent–causing the deaths and sufferings of war.
If you watched the Ken Burns film, “The War,” last week you could not help but see how different World War II was from what is happening today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other than Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, no one of wealth in the industrial military complex, business or politics has a son or daughter involved in the fighting.
Britt Towery is a former pastor, missionary and free-lance writer.