Memorial Day open thread: Guns, not butter

Since Memorial Day was established a few years after the Civil War, Americans have marked the holiday every year by remembering our war dead (ok, almost all our war dead). In his weekly address, President Barack Obama asked Americans to honor "not just those who’ve worn this country’s uniform, but the men and women who’ve died in its service; who’ve laid down their lives in defense of their fellow citizens; who’ve given their last full measure of devotion to protect the United States of America."

Every so often I read the I Got The News Today profiles of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to an old Jewish teaching, saving one life is equivalent to saving the whole world. The IGTNT diaries, like "Six More Lost to All Who Loved Them," are a crushing reminder that the death of one person is like the death of the whole world to the people left behind.

The IGTNT series will likely continue for many more years. The number of Americans killed in Afghanistan recently passed 1,000, and we are preparing to send an additional 30,000 troops there. Although we have fewer troops in Iraq now than we did for most of the past seven years, we have more troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined now than we did when Obama became president.

The price of these wars is also enormous in monetary terms. On May 30 the estimated cost of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq exceeded $1 trillion. We could have done lots of things with that kind of money. On May 27 the U.S. Senate passed yet another war supplemental funding bill, this time for $58.8 billion. On May 28 the House passed the $726 billion Defense Authorization Bill for 2011 (roll call here).

Meanwhile, Congress adjourned for the Memorial Day weekend without extending unemployment benefits or passing another jobs bill. This economic relief bill had already been watered down because of "concerns" about deficit spending. You'll notice few members of Congress are concerned about deficit spending to fund our endless war machine.

For some people, Memorial Day is first and foremost the unofficial beginning of summer. Feel free to share any fun plans or picnic recipes in the comments. We've been invited to a potluck today, and I haven't decided whether to make my favorite chick pea dish (from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking), a North African potato salad with olive oil and spices, or a pasta salad with a Chinese-style peanut butter sauce. I like to bring vegan dishes to potlucks so I don't worry if they sit outside for a few hours. Also, the party I'm attending may include some vegetarians and people who keep kosher (they don't mix meat with dairy in the same meal).

This is an open thread. What's on your mind?

UPDATE: Graphs showing number of days in Iraq and number of U.S. deaths in Iraq before and after President George W. Bush announced "Mission Accomplished."

Tags: Memorial Day, Iraq, Afghanistan, Barack Obama, defense spending, budget, Open Thread (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

What would Ike do?

On Saturday I visited Eisenhower's birthplace in Denison, Texas, about 70 miles north of Dallas.  It's fitting to think where his place on the political spectrum would be today.  I think he would have a lot of doubts about continued war spending.

If he were alive today, Eisenhower would (and could not) not be a Republican; more likely, he would be an independent.

Anyway, I'm wrapping up my first weekend in Dallas--I feel for those in India--it was a mere 97 degrees yesterday.

 

by esconded 2010-05-31 11:29AM | 0 recs
memorial

For the first time, a couple of weeks ago, we went over to Arlington and walked the grounds. For some odd reason, we'd never been, even though I've driven by it countless times. It was odd, as I wound up going by JFK's place and noticing the view; then was watching McNamara's movie last week, and he talks about how he went and picked out that spot, only to have Jackie tell him afterwards that it was a view that JFK said was the best of the capital. I mostly wanted to go view the Lee House, and what a place (at the time anyway). Reading through Lincoln's Re-election, it has quite a bit on the Lee loss of that land and houses, so it was interesting to go through it and the tiny museum.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-31 11:43AM | 0 recs

Diaries

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