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Finish the Job?


I received an email from the Friends Committee on National Legislation, urging me to call the White House and voice my opinion about additional troops to Afghanistan. Recently, I decided no more of this waste-of-time bullshit. But I needed to vent. I had just read the article in which Obama said he intends to ‘finish the job that began with the overthrow of the Taliban government in the fall of 2001.’ (The New York Times, Nov. 24, 2009 by Zeleny and Stout)

‘Finish the job’ sounds so very George Bushian, sort of like “Mission Accomplished” or “You’re either with us or against us,” or “We’re fightin’ ‘em over there so we don’t have to fight ‘em over here.” You know, those imbecilic utterances to which you had such a visceral reaction you thought you might heave and expel the entire contents of your gastrointestinal tract.

So, when I read Obama’s in-the-same-category bluster—his prelude to a new and winning strategy, I reached for the phone and waited, on hold, because apparently, so many people had the same impulse and were calling the White House.

Four troops were just killed in Afghanistan—another in Iraq. Five families have heard the “We regret to inform you.” Five families are in a nightmare of shock, agony, and disbelief, thinking, hoping, that maybe there’s some mistake.

“This isn’t real. No, no, no,” over and over they will say for not just days and months, but years. “Please, this can’t be real.”

And this raises the absent-from-mainstream reportage about all the Afghan families, Iraqi, and, now, Pakistani, who have lost loved ones in this cataclysmic and opportunistic grab for power and resources, launched under the guise of avenging 9/11 and ridding the world of terrorism.

In Iraq, the number of dead civilians exceeds a million while a United Nations report informs that in the first 10 months of 2009, over 2000 Afghan civilians were killed.

Yet, the Afghanistan conflict is the “right war” that our president is going to ‘finish’ by sending more troops to motivate greater hatred of the United States, our country whose imperialistic foreign policy demands that all politicians say “God Bless America” at the end of every speech.

It is our hubris and reprehensible US doctrine of dictating to the rest of the world when to inhale and exhale along with a disregard for anyone considered The Other that compelled me to phone and, then, to wait. I heard a recording, that I was holding for the next comment operator. “Your call is important to the President. Thank you for your patience.”

“I’m not patient,” I wanted to scream. Truth is I’m pretty effing far from patient. And, yet, I stayed on the line.

Finally, a volunteer answered. I told her I was calling to state my opposition to a troop increase and that I wanted, instead, troop withdrawal. I could feel myself, building up, up, up to a crescendo of words and emotions that I knew would never be considered:

For military families and for the people of Afghanistan, and not just that country but Iraq and Pakistan, I want an end to the violence that is war.

And the operator said, “I will pass this on to the President.”

“Where it will be ignored,” I said.

Barack Obama’s plan is to ‘dismantle and degrade’ our enemies. But the real and present consequence of our acts of mass destruction are dismantling and degrading not just our country but also our humanity.

MISSY BEATTIE lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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