Opinion: Response to “The United States of Amnesia”
The article “The United States of Amnesia,” written in The Review, takes the opportunity to raise awareness of important but often forgotten issues, such as the costs paid by our military service men and women and the general lack of understanding among Americans of the geopolitical situation surrounding the wars. However, I would like to clarify a few points in the article.
First, although the Afghan War is now the longest continuous conflict in American history, I would argue that this “forever war” doesn’t represent anything novel. Since its inception, the United States has been at war almost constantly, from the ethnic cleansing carried out against the Native Americans to the subjugation and slaughter in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Philippines, not to mention the atrocities committed in Indochina. I therefore wonder which time in history Professor Alchon is referring to when he laments that no one asks, “Will the US ever again be at peace in the world?”
Further, “amnesia” may not be the proper term, as it implies that there was knowledge at some point. As with the war in Vietnam, which later expanded to Cambodia and Laos, most Americans have largely been unaware of the massive human cost paid by the victims of our aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, not only in terms of those who have lost their lives but those who have lost a loved one or suffered a grave injury. To drive this point home, the article itself does not contain one mention of the tens of thousands of innocent Afghans and Iraqis who have been murdered and continue to be murdered by our actions. It is deeply regrettable that a consistently lower worth is assigned to the lives of Iraqis and Afghans than to the lives of Americans.
However, there are many who uphold basic human values and empathize with the victims of war. The article fails to mention that at the outbreak of the war, millions of people around the world protested U.S. aggression in one of the largest demonstrations of solidarity in history, and hundreds of thousands continued to protest in the years following the invasion. The people who decided they would not silently stand by as the elites of this country brutalized their fellow humans truly deserve our respect and should be remembered by all.
On the other hand the elites — Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — along with numerous high ranking civilian and military officials, have committed serious war crimes which they should be prosecuted for. Complicit in these crimes are the corporations that have callously profited off of this widespread suffering as well as those in academia and the media who provided justification and support for these actions. Instead of being allowed to hold positions of power and esteem in our society, they should face justice for the harm they have caused around the world.
Daniel Gaston is a PhD student studying computer science with the university’s College of Engineering. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.