Editorial: A tough lesson to learn, again

On the tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan last Friday, a loyal group of protestors stood on the Bristol green for their weekly ritual — making a statement against war because they feel it’s important to not let this nation’s participation in that war go unchallenged.
“It’s a horrible thing to be killing and maiming people. For what? To make a few other people rich,” said 95-year-old Bristol resident and member of the Five Town Peace Coalition, Harriet Bensen. “I’ve lived through quite a few wars… but war is not the way to settle a problem… Generally, war never leads to a good end for most people.”
The coalition has met on the corner of Bristol’s West and North streets since 2003 and this past week protestors carried signs reflecting the cost of the war in time, lives and dollars: 10 years, 920,000 dead and $1.29 trillion (counting the war in Iraq.)
Like a similar group in Middlebury that had stood at a prominent downtown location for an hour each Saturday for many years, these visible but respectful protests are priceless reminders of our freedoms, and of our obligations to speak out against what each of us believe are wrongful actions of the government.
At this time 10 years ago, however, the national mood was decidedly different. Following the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the nation was intent on defending its borders and seeking revenge on those who murdered innocent citizens. In that light, attacking the Taliban and dislodging their stranglehold on Afghanistan was certainly defensible, if not plausible as a means to an end. A decade later, and after a detour into war against Iraq, Americans have seen the national treasury plundered by military contractors and other spending on defense, thousands dead and injured, our international reputation severely damaged, and with no good results that can be considered lasting.
The illusion of regional warfare is that outsiders can force internal change. In Afghanistan, the illusion was compelling initially, but less and less so as time goes by and cultural forces prevail. Like Vietnam, it’s been a tough lesson to learn, again.
Angelo S. Lynn

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