Flickr image By cobalt123
As we celebrate Memorial Day, it can be hard to remember that this is not principally intended as a day off from work for most of us, but as an occasion to honor dead soldiers who were once actual living persons, with many years of expected life ahead of them.
While contemplating the reality of all these dead young people, we would do well to ponder why soldiers are currently dying in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Those who "support the troops", i.e. support their being involved in those conflicts, should be able to explain, with vigor and simplicity, in just a few words, why it is necessary that they die--or risk dying.
Most can't, and it's not surprising that they are unfamiliar with some of the most revealing reports and analyses.
First, there's the question of why the US (and its principal ally, Britain) invaded Iraq in the first place. We've had a lot to say on that topic, such as on Britain's motivation (oil), more on Britain here, and then George W. Bush's principal personal motivation (not oil!)
Enough Iraq. On to the war that gets the attention these days, Afghanistan. For perspective, see the following, little-recalled BBC report from May 13, 2002--not long after the US invasion of Afghanistan and installation of Hamid Karzai in power:
Afghanistan hopes to strike a deal later this month to build a $2bn pipeline through the country to take gas from energy-rich Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India.
Afghan interim ruler Hamid Karzai is to hold talks with his Pakistani and Turkmenistan counterparts later this month on Afghanistan's biggest foreign investment project, Mohammad Alim Razim, minister for Mines and Industries told Reuters.
"The work on the project will start after an agreement is expected to be struck at the coming summit," Mr Razim said.
The construction of the 850-kilometre pipeline had been previously discussed between Afghanistan's former Taliban regime, US oil company Unocal and Bridas of Argentina.
The project was abandoned after the US launched missile attacks on Afghanistan in 1999.
US company preferred
Mr Razim said US energy company Unocal was the "lead company" among those that would build the pipeline, which would bring 30bn cubic meters of Turkmen gas to market annually.
Unocal -- which led a consortium of companies from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Japan and South Korea -- has maintained the project is both economically and technically feasible once Afghan stability was secured.