Perry O’Brien / Common Defense
(March 4, 2019) — 16 years ago the U.S. launched an invasion of Iraq. This became the flagship operation of an open-ended, global military campaign that’s claimed thousands of lives, wasted trillions of dollars, and STILL continues to this day. I want to take this moment to tell you a story that I rarely — if ever — share. It’s long, but I hope you’ll read through to the end, because I’m going to ask you to take action to end this Forever War once it’s done.
In the fall of 2005, I walked through a field of empty combat boots. It was an art exhibit. Each pair represented a service member killed in the Iraq War. It was eerie and devastating, but I also felt weirdly blessed. I thought I hadn’t lost anyone in Iraq.
The previous year I’d come home from Afghanistan, where I served as a medic with the 82nd Airborne. My unit saw the terrible consequences of war, but we all made it back. So walking through this silent parade of combat boots, I felt fortunate. Lucky, even.
I was wrong.
I received a call later that same day: a friend I served with had been killed that morning. His convoy had been traveling past a small village on the Euphrates when they hit an IED.
On the day of the funeral, everyone in my friend’s hometown came out to show support. They even closed school so kids could stand along the street and wave flags at our cars. I was a civilian, but my old unit was there in uniform. Many of them were getting ready to deploy to Iraq.
After the service, I overheard my old Sergeant promising our friend’s grieving father that he’d get revenge, and kill as many “hajjis” as he could while he was in Iraq. I couldn’t help but think about that field of boots, and how there’s a second component to that art exhibit: a pile of shoes representing civilian casualties.
In 2005, there were 1,900 pairs of boots on that field. The number today would be closer to 5,000 — one for each dead U.S. service members. And the mountain of civilian shoes beside it would stand 500,000 pairs tall.
It’s been 14 years since my friend was killed. 16 years since the Iraq War began. And 18 years since this Forever War first began.
How many more funerals do we need? How many more grieving families and tearful oaths of revenge? How much bloodshed and pain and hurt must we inflict upon the world until the bigwigs in Washington have had their fill?
It’s way past time for our leaders to step up and end this madness. So on this day — a day of painful remembrance — I’m asking you to sign our mass-petition today and tell Congress to sign our pledge to end the Forever War.
Perry O’Brien is a U.S. Army and Afghanistan War veteran.
We Must End The Forever War
Our country’s military has been in a permanent state of ever-expanding conflict for over seventeen years. Veterans call it the “Forever War.” Together, we have the power to end it.
To my elected representatives,
Our country’s military has been in a permanent state of conflict for over seventeen years. Veterans call it the “Forever War.” The cost of this global, destabilizing, ever-expanding, endless war has been devastating, and regular Americans like us continue to pay in blood, lives, dollars, and the opportunity cost of investments which are desperately needed here at home.
I am standing with veterans and military families in my community and asking you, my elected representatives, to make a commitment to us that you will affirmatively act to bring a clear end to these military interventions. We also demand that Congress reassert its Constitutional authority over matters of war and military force, and bring back democratic checks and balances over the Presidency in these matters which have such enormous importance for our military community, our country, and the world. You can join with your colleagues in Congress in demonstrating your commitment by signing the Common Defense “End The Forever War” pledge found below.
END THE FOREVER WAR PLEDGE
The United States has been in a state of continuous, global, open-ended military conflict since 2001. Over 2.5 million troops have fought in this “Forever War” in over a dozen countries – including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Niger, Somalia, and Thailand.I pledge to the people of the United States of America, and to our military community in particular, that I will (1) fight to reclaim Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of U.S. foreign policy and independently debate whether to authorize each new use of military force, and (2) act to bring the Forever War to a responsible and expedient conclusion.
Thanks for signing our pledge.
We just met with Congress about ending the 18-year-long Forever War our government’s been waging in the Middle East and Central Asia. And we already have 8 co-sponsors.
Bernie Sanders (Ind, Senate /VT)
Elizabeth Warren (Dem, Senate /MA)
Jon Tester (Dem, Senate /MT)
Ilhan Omar (Dem, House /MN-05)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Dem, House /NY-14)
Rashida Tlaib (Dem, House /MI-13)
Ro Khanna (Dem, House /CA-17)
Mark Pocan (Dem, House /WI-02)
Help us meet with and pressure even more members of Congress so we can end this foreign policy abomination for good.