by Edwin Santana
It’s September 11th again — and time for politicians to start putting out the same generic statements reminding us to never forget. While we can’t forget the lives lost in the attack that day, it seems like the entire country is colluding to forget what we committed our armed forces to and forget the lessons we’ve learned through lives lost over two decades. When 7% of Americans bear the burden of our wars, it’s easy to lower our heads and forget the human cost of war and allow ourselves to be surprised when we hear about Special Ops soldiers being killed in far off countries like Niger.
Exactly one year from today will mark the day a child could have been born and grown to adulthood under the specter of the War on Terror. The attack on the Twin Towers and the resulting actions taken by the Bush Administration have left us mired in a war that has no clear objectives, and no end in sight.
The nebulous “War on Terror” and the authorization for the use of military force that followed have been used as rationale by presidents of both parties to launch attacks and rage proxy wars in countries all across the world with no direct connection to the individuals who attacked our country this day, 17 years ago. The blank check that Congress has written the Pentagon along with the total abdication of warmaking responsibilities has lead to the deaths of thousands of Americans across the globe, with most kids of my generation asking “why?” Folks like to tease my generation because of our dependency on cell phones and our need for participation trophies. They ignorantly overlook the fact that with the way things are going, our children might have the same opportunity to step on IEDs in Afghanistan that we did.
Americans have a choice. The easy one is to continue down the path we’ve been on for almost two decades. The difficult path is to start having hard conversations about the outsized role that the Department of Defense plays in our country, at the expense of all other things. The Constitution gives the American people the right to authorize and wage war through their elected representatives in Congress, yet we have forfeited that right to the President and unelected Generals. It’s time for us to take it back.