The greatest cost of the endless and needless wars the United States is engaged in can’t be measure in dollars and cents but in the expenditure of our most precious resource, the lives of our young people, said potential Libertarian presidential candidate R. Lee Wrights.
“The greatest cost of war is the toll it is taking on our most precious resources, our young people,” said Wrights. “Every time a young American soldier, sailor, airman or marine is killed, another dream dies, another possibility dies, another prospect dies. Every time a young American is killed, another hope dies.”
One such precious resource was 24-year-old Robert J. Miller. The Special Forces soldier was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. military decoration, for his action in Afghanistan in saving the lives of 22 American and Afghan soldiers.
“Staff Sgt. Miller gave his life for his fellow man, the greatest sacrifice any person can make,” Wrights said. “He should be honored, as should every American killed defending themselves or their comrades.”
“But the greatest honor we can bestow on these young people is to stop asking them to sacrifice themselves in endless and needless wars,” he said. “If we truly want to support the troops we should bring them home – now.”
“Most Americans are untouched by the war, other than having to endure invasions of their civil liberties when they try to get on an airplane,” Wrights said. “During the Vietnam war, the anti-war movement was galvanized by the images of death and destruction on their television screens. Sadly, today Americans are either numb or indifferent to very similar images coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has even acknowledged that this is not a shared cost. He told a group of students at Duke University recently that less than 20 percent of Americans know someone who has been in the military and that number is declining. Gates said that despite the “fond sentiments for men and women in uniform, for most Americans the wars remain an abstraction.”
Wrights said that America’s wars are now being fought by a professional military, the standing army that our nation’s founders feared and warned against. In his Duke lecture, Gates said that United States couldn’t sustain such “complex and protracted missions” like Iraq and Afghanistan without the dedication of “seasoned professional who choose to serve and keep on serving.”
The defense secretary also said that whatever mistakes were made in these conflicts were the result of failures and “miscalculations” at the top, not by the troops in the field. “It has taken every ounce of our troops’ skill, initiative and commitment to battle a cunning and adaptive enemy at the front while overcoming bureaucratic lassitude and sometimes worse at the rear,” Gates said.
“This is stunning,” Wrights said. “What the secretary is saying in effect is that these young people who choose to serve their country have more honor and integrity to do the right thing than the leaders who send them to fight and die. I am appalled at such callousness.”
Gates said that the wars are putting extraordinary stress on military members and their families, causing anxiety, increased domestic strife and a growing number of suicides. He said that the divorce rate among Army enlisted personnel has nearly doubled since the wars began.
“Yet neither the secretary nor President Obama offer any solutions to these problems,” Wrights said. “They piously praise the dedication and sacrifice made by America’s young men and women in uniform, yet they continue to promote policies that will cause them and their families to suffer and sacrifice even more.”
“Our military deserves better. Our military deserves a Commander-in-Chief who will honor and respect their devotion to duty by calling on them to fight and die only to defend America when we have been directly attacked,” Wrights said.
Wrights, a military veteran himself, is considering seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 should be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. He has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.
Wrights is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. The 52-year old writer and political activist was born in Winston Salem, NC and now lives in Texas. Contact Lee at email@example.com.