OBL’s Death; Hoping for the End of an Era

Last night, as it was being announced that the president would make a speech my friend said, half-jokingly, that we had probably found bin Laden.

We did.

I was in fifth grade on September 11, 2001.
I have grown up watching my country descend into a quagmire of
militarization, subjugation of Muslim and other Arab Americans, and self-destruction as it stains its international reputation by torturing and committing other war crimes.

The America whose freedoms I was raised to love and treasure, and under whose flag I said the Pledge of Allegiance that and every morning has, under the guise of the “war on terror,”  consistently abandoned its values and ideals in pursuit of the nebulous other of “Islamofascism” in lieu of the real bad guy, OBL and Al-Qaeda.

My America has a volunteer-run military, not a hotbed of economic coercion.
My America believes in the value and dignity of every human being, not just those in a United States or Allied uniform.
My America believes in freedom of speech, not hate-speech, bigotry, and legislated ignorance.

I was ten years old when we invaded Afghanistan… I never dreamed I would have friends deployed there.

2,000 + people dead in IED drone strikes in Pakistan.
14,000-34,000 estimated civilian deaths in Afghanistan
over 1,000,000 people dead in Iraq since 2003
Trillions of dollars spent….

How many of those who serve will come back de-sensitized, traumatized,
horrified with a system that promised a paycheck and a college degree,
but didn’t warn about their inability to treat PTSD?

I agree with Peter Beinart that OBL’s death opens the door for a re-evaluation and re-prioritization of American policies, both foreign and domestic– and for that I am glad it has happened. A renewed focus on actually solving the mountain of debt is important, but insufficient as a final goal. I’m going to continue (naively) holding out hope that we will cut the defense budget and bring my friends home soon. Meanwhile, let’s take a step back, learn from our mistakes, learn from each other, and figure out how our nation can participate in a mutually beneficial way in this global age.

Over half of my life as a citizen of the United States has been spent with my country at war, devastating the lives of people across the globe: in Afghanistan, In Iraq, in Pakistan, at Guantanomo and other detention facilities, at United States military bases all around the world, in the homes of the family members of those directly affected by the conflict: 9-11 families, civilians in occupied lands, the loved ones of service-members, and in the bank accounts of every American whose federal taxes paid for much of this destruction.

Forgive me if I’m not outside with fireworks just yet.

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