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The ongoing war against the people of Afghanistan has no moral or ethical justification. Al-Qaida has dispersed to other countries, yet our own civilian leadership continues to ignore the root cause of Mideast unrest and the hatred of many toward U.S. policies.

The Pentagon budget for the next fiscal year is $640 billion, with more than $80 billion for military action in Afghanistan. At the same time, presidential and congressional candidates say we need to cut deficits and the national debt. No one is calling for an end to this war or for drastic cuts to the bloated military budget. Instead, many are suggesting we need to cut programs for children, the unemployed and to reduce Medicare and Medicaid.

Our economic problems are a direct result of 10 years of unnecessary war in Iraq and Afghanistan while we cut taxes. War is costly, and a few people/corporations have become very wealthy, profiting from keeping our nation at war. The decisions made by our elected representatives concerning these wars have been one foolish blunder after another.

An increasing number of veterans from these wars are suffering from PTSD. They and their families are enduring the consequences of divorce, addiction and suicide. Veterans are becoming more aware of the futility and stupidity of these wars.

The third weekend of May, NATO dignitaries were in Chicago for a summit on Afghanistan. There also was a number of Iraq/Afghanistan U.S. veterans who protested the continuance of these wars. They threw their medals toward the civilian leaders who want to prolong and profit from these wars.

As a Marine veteran of a previous needless war in Vietnam, my heart and soul was with them. The leaders who started and continue to perpetuate these endless wars need to be held accountable for their words and actions. No Afghans or Iraqis were involved in the planning or execution of hijacking the planes on 9/11. President Barack Obama made the war in Afghanistan his war by calling for a surge in troops in 2009 and by escalating the use of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries.

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This past Memorial Day, Obama launched a 13-year campaign to commemorate the Vietnam War and its veterans. After listening to his address at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., I felt he missed the point. He spoke much about Vietnam veterans returning to a nation that was becoming increasingly opposed to the war. He failed to mention, however, that the Vietnam War began with a fabricated story about an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. That lie resulted in the death of more than 58,000 Americans and about 2 million innocent Vietnamese civilians.

The current wars have been based on lies, too. Lies that Afghanistan was responsible for fostering the attacks of 9/11, and that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. American soldiers were put in harm’s way because the civilian leadership fabricated an excuse to start a war. Our soldiers try to protect each other, often under extreme conditions with considerable courage. But their injuries and deaths do not make our country more free or safe.

The civilian leadership of our country, our president and Congress need to be held accountable for the terrible waste these wars have caused. This will not happen until we, the people who elect them, demand these wars end and begin to rebuild the countries we destroyed and also to rebuild our own country. Recently the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of all troops. This needs to happen in every city and state in our nation.

There is enough money to do this if we choose to. That is the question before us. Do we possess a moral conscience to demand an end to stupid and wasteful wars? Our elected representatives are supposed to listen to us, so let’s call them and write them and demand a plan for a speedy withdrawal and stabilization where that is possible. Or are we those who don't care and are content with our big-screen TV and cheap gasoline?

Ron Meyer is a Marine Corps combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He and his wife live on their farm near Superior. Ron is a member of Nebraskans for Peace and Veterans for Peace.

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Online editor

Victoria Ayotte Brown is the Journal Star online editor.

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