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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/19/18

While ICE Continues Harassing People, Service Members Are Dying in Afghanistan

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What a strange confusion of priorities we are forced to live with in America. We've gone from a country that proclaimed, "Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," to a country that detains tired, poor, huddled masses of asylum seekers and migrants at the Mexican border. We began as a country seeking to free ourselves from imperialism. Now, we're an empire with military bases in at least 74 countries .

While "zero tolerance" continues at the border and Trump's antics in Europe hog headlines, two American soldiers have died in Afghanistan in one week , bringing the count to four service member deaths this year. That doesn't seem like a lot, but it's four too many.

Keep in mind Trump originally promised he was going to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and then went against h is word . Then, he headed to Brussels for a NATO summit. Instead of discussing Afghanistan -- which was supposed to be on the docket -- he went on a needless diatribe about NATO-member spending. After that, he said NATO is in great shape. NATO members have already committed to increasing their spending. During this worthless red herring of a NATO summit, which Trump doubtlessly orchestrated to draw attention away from the real issues of the moment, an insider attack by Afghan security forces killed an American service member and wounded two others.

Here's the perspective: at home, we have ICE zealously tracking, harassing, and detaining immigrants and asylum seekers. Abroad, we have service members dying while our president galivants around weakening our alliances -- and meeting spuriously with Putin to boot.

If you're an American service member, you've watched as Secretary of Defense James Mattis has contradicted his boss time and again, effectively demonstrating the illegitimacy of the president. You've also watched or participated in a never-ending war in Afghanistan. Your belief in the legitimacy of American interests has got to be waning. We should be making our service members a main priority because they're one of our greatest assets as a country. They're disciplined, intelligent, and patriotic.

The longer this war goes on, the more likely we are to see traumatized service members who have trouble returning to civilian life, much like we saw with Vietnam.

Since 9/11, 44 percent of veterans have had trouble returning to civilian life, largely due to psychological trauma. For those who do return and are ready to resume civilian life and find a good job, they may be interested in cybersecurity for the Department of Defense because, according to Western Governors University , the duties and skills are similar to the military.

But here's the kicker: private sector cybersecurity specialists earn upwards of $92K a year, while the Department of Defense pays $66K at most . If you're a military service member returning to civilian life and you've watched your nation wage a joke of a war under a joke of a president, are you going to do cybersecurity for the Department of Defense? Why would you when a private tech company -- one that probably opposes Trump -- is prepared to pay you a lot more?

We're paying ICE agents to try and keep potentially productive immigrants out of the country. Plus, we're spending money on a war that has very little to do with American interests. And Trump is worried about NATO spending? He should pay more attention to the lives of service members. He's their "Commander in Chief." He should pay more attention to ending a war that is a gigantic waste of money for the American taxpayer.

The calls to abolish ICE are justified. This is an agency that has locked up children and separated families who might be US citizens for up to a year. If you're an ICE agent, how could you possibly follow through with that order? This is an agency that shackled women in a hot van without food and water for 12 hours.

If I'm a service member I'm wondering why I'm taking orders from an administration that would act this way. As an American citizen, I'm wondering why a president who stole the office with the help of Putin and Russian hackers is allowed to continue representing my country.

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