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August 30, 2019

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The only way to "win" is to study war no more.
"Third U.S. Soldier Dies in Afghanistan in Just Over a Week," via the New York Times. "The soldier’s death comes as Taliban officials and State Department negotiators navigate the diplomatic details needed to finalize a plan for peace, one that is expected to include the withdrawal of American troops from the country."
"God will judge between the nations and settle disputes of mighty nations, which are far away. They will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war." - Micah 4:3
As the death count in the war in Afghanistan continues to rise, U.S. officials continue to negotiate a peace agreement with the Taliban. Trump supposedly believes that an agreement would be “job-enhancing” for him ahead of the 2020 election. As we prepare for the final agreement, pundits are already speculating about whether we will end the Afghan War as victors or as an act of surrender. In The Atlantic, a military strategist and former Bush administration official argue that "It Matters If Americans Call Afghanistan a Defeat." 

The writers lament how Presidents Obama and Trump never engaged in enough pro-war propaganda and worry how "the public’s judgment about whether the United States won or lost the war will affect civilian-military relations for years to come." It's one of those well-written but ridiculous ideas that make up a lot of punditry about politics and foreign policy. 

From a moral standpoint, nobody wins in war. As Christians, we believe that every "casualty of war" is somebody made in the image of God who has lost their life too soon. Nobody "wins" or "loses" the Afghan War; the people of Afghanistan have lost and the American people have lost. Whether or not you're a pacifist or believe in the limited use of force for "just wars," everyone can see that the costs of wars are horrific.

It's unbelievable that Americans have tolerated endless war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. We've all just come to accept a permanent military engagement abroad as we argue about domestic issues. We need to rethink our entire foreign policy and see the cost of war not just in American soldiers' lives lost but also in the suffering of people in countries we've invaded.

We look back at other points in history and wonder "how could people living in nation X, Y, or Z tolerate that?" That's exactly what future historians will wonder about the United States' indefinite military engagements. 

When Trump's plan for "peace" with the Taliban comes out, let's not judge whether it's a "win" or a "loss." We know the entire endeavor has been a loss for human dignity. Let's judge the plan by how much it helps move us towards a new day of American foreign policy where we don't lead with military intervention.
Get involved with one of these amazing organizations: Win Without War or the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
God of Peace, we mourn the loss of life in the Afghan War. We pray for a revolution of values in the entire world in favor of peace. May we be part of bringing about that revolution and serve as peacemakers in the world today. Awaken our hearts, our communities, and our nation to the ongoing costs of endless war for the United States in Asia and all over the Earth. Amen.
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