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We don’t want another war

About 18 years ago, in late September of 2001, I wrote a column about watching local teens at a Street Jam as they did skateboard tricks on a ramp in the middle of downtown Glens Falls.

I marveled at how brave they were, spinning off their boards and falling and rolling over on the road, and I wondered whether that bravery would soon be used by their country in a war overseas.

It was used, not in one war but two, and among the more than 7,000 U.S. soldiers who have died since then and the tens of thousands who have been hurt, more than a few were from the local area.

Who could have predicted, almost 20 years ago, that the wars we were embarking on then would last so long that people not yet born in September of 2001 would be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to risk their health and their lives?

We are still losing sons and daughters in those countries, in conflicts whose aims we never understood, and now, soon, we may be adding a third war on top of those two.

You can argue we could have done better in Iraq and Afghanistan, that we missed opportunities, that it wasn’t our intention but our execution that was flawed.

But from what I’ve read about wars, they are always enormous collections of failures — missteps and misjudgments — and the side that wins is the one whose mistakes were a little less extreme. When I wrote columns against invading Iraq, I was told by some readers that the invasion would be easy, the Iraqis would welcome us, the price of oil would fall and the costs in human life and money would be small.

Well, the invasion was easy.

It’s hard to believe, with communities across the country mourning soldiers killed and wounded over the past 18 years, with Iraq in tatters, with trillions of dollars wasted, we would provoke another war with another country in the Middle East.

It doesn’t matter that President Trump says he wasn’t trying to start a war with Iran. He committed an act of war against Iran. If you doubt that, consider how the U.S. would view the assassination by another country of Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s highest ranking military officer.

In 2013, I interviewed parents and friends of a young man from Granville who was so damaged by the things he saw and did in Iraq and the injuries he suffered there that he couldn’t recover after coming home and ended up killing himself.

His name was Jon Hyatt, and every person I talked to talked about what a great guy he was, how big his heart was and how fun he was and how he always wanted to help people.

Already, today, we are sending thousands more of our wonderful young people to the Middle East.

How many times are we going to do this? How many kids are we going to sacrifice?

We have been plunged into war fever twice in the last 20 years, and it has turned into a disaster both times.

We have not yet seen the consequences of President Trump’s surprise assassination, but we will. The only way we might avoid the worst now is by making it clear we don’t want another war with all the tragedies that will follow. We have had enough.

Will Doolittle is projects editor of the Post-Star newspaper of Glens Falls.