America’s longest war continues. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

I get really emotional when I watch videos of members of the armed forces coming home after a long deployment to surprise their loved ones. I put myself in the shoes of these families who were separated for months and can feel the love.

Then I get angry.

I get angry because these reunions are as touching as they are senseless.

Sixteen years ago yesterday, the US-led invasion of Afghanistan began. Since then, nothing has been gained but so much has been lost.

Thousands of American soldiers — as well as hundreds of thousands of civilians — have been killed. Many more returned irreparably damaged. They might have come home but their limbs — and often their mental health — have remained behind on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

What did they get in return for their sacrifice? Not much. Members of the armed forces are neither well-paid nor particularly well-cared-for once they return home. As WhoWhatWhy has pointed out, one US veteran commits suicide roughly every hour.

The war has also taken a brutal toll on the families of service members. You can see it in those videos. More than 2.5 million American men and women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. That means hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart — many of them forever. In addition, countless children had to spend part of their formative years without their mom or dad, constantly worrying about whether they would see their parent again. Think of the strain that places on families.

And all that for what?

The US isn’t one bit safer. Neither is the Middle East. In fact, the region seems much-less stable now than it was 16 years ago, and the worldwide threat of terrorism has only increased.

Americans are being told that their liberties are under attack — and that the troops are defending them abroad. But the only people who have taken anybody’s freedoms away are sitting in the halls of power in Washington.

They happen to be the same people who apparently never have seen a war they didn’t like — regardless of the consequences for millions of Americans and their families.

So excuse me if I can’t get upset about NFL players supposedly “disrespecting the troops” by taking a knee to protest an injustice. Personally, I can’t think of anything more disrespectful to the men and women in uniform than sending them into harm’s way to fight endless wars with no objective.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Coalition Forces (DoD), sign (el-toro / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), F-16 (S.C. Air National Guard / Flickr), Flag map of Afghanistan (PavelD / Wikimedia) and flag (Mike Mozart / Flickr – CC BY 2.0).

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Afghanistan road (DoD).


  • Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, and former congressional reporter. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre. DonkeyHotey creates caricatures and cartoons used by many writers and websites to illustrate news articles and opinion pieces. His current work is a combination of caricature, photo collage, and photo manipulation. Follow him on Twitter @DonkeyHotey.

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Yes and those in congress to stop giving dod everything they want.


We have a President now who claims to be a primo negotiator. But I see him doing very little in the way of negotiating with anyone at all. Not even his own people. And he’s certainly not into negotiating for making peace in the Middle East, he seems much more bent on continuing a useless war. Nobody even seems to know why we’re still there, actually. Afghanistan didn’t attack us, never intended to attack us. Nor did Syria. Nor did Iraq contrary to the line of bull we all hear about how Bush 2 insisted there were WMD’s over there. Even after we found out he lied, we still continued to fight but no one seems to be able to tell us why.
The WHY is because of the money being funneled into the DOD for “defense” and it’s being used for almost everything and anything else, some of it not even close to being “defense related”. We cannot expect peace to be the end product of a war – that just never happens.
I’ll be a lot happier when I see DJT acting more like the president he TOLD us he’d be when he was campaigning. He told us he was a talker not a fighter. So far we’ve gotten a lot of empty promises and a lot of what we’ve seen over the past 25 years which is nothing to brag about, for sure.
Foreign countries get tired of being told that they MUST do what the USA says – or else. I have a dismal feeling that some of those countries are not going to take it much longer.


This article is right on target. But guess what, I cannot get teary eyed or overly upset watching these so called heart wrenching reunions or homecomings either. Some are real, others are fake simply to propagandize the war.

Sorry, but my emotions are not stirred by a soldier appearing in a box at school to a first grader to be home for Christmas.

Yes, stop sending the troops all over and as for people resist the recruiters who tell you all the glories of wars and seeing other countries. As far as seeing other countries, you are simply sent out there to destroy them.

Eric Morris

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon asked his aide in charge of Vets if there was one thing he could do for Vets, what would that be? Answer: Stop making them.

Gary C. Noland

Since the mid 20th century, military conflicts this country has been involved in have had absolutely NOTHING to do with defending our country. The have been solely for the enrichment and promulgation of the Military Industrial Complex. Any pretense otherwise is purely pseudo-patriotic rah-rah flag waving propaganda BS spewed by the corporate owned (ALL by only SIX companies) mainstream media. The death, maiming and destruction caused by these conflicts is viewed simply as the cost of doing business by the oligarch 1% who profit from them.