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Afghanistan and Valet Parking

Marc Munroe Dion on

Losing a war is nothing like leaving a nice restaurant after a good dinner.

When you leave the nice restaurant, you give the parking attendant your ticket, and he fetches your Mercedes. If you're a nice person, you throw him $5.

Losing a war means you leave on the run, on the last plane out, while explosions rock the ground below. Your former enemies whoop and holler in the streets because you lost, and they begin busily executing the traitors who collaborated with you.

If valet parking worked that way, the attendant (who probably hates you for driving a Mercedes) would fight you for your car. If you lost, he'd keep the Mercedes while you ran away. Then, he'd execute the waiter who was so nice to you, and that bartender who knows "just how" you like your vodka martini.

It would be a long walk home from the nice restaurant.

It's a long walk home from Afghanistan, though it's a walk America has made before. We walked home from Vietnam and from Iraq.

 

America hasn't won a war in decades.

Of course, that's ancient history because America has a memory that doesn't extend back much further than a year or so. If you're lucky. The only time we have long memories is where sports are concerned. Who won the Super Bowl 10 years ago? Millions of people know. What was Khe Sanh? Fewer. Far fewer.

In my way, I'm talking about those last American casualties in Afghanistan: the ones we profess to revere even as we use them for the shadiest of political purposes.

I pray for their souls at night in the last hour before sleep. The names of the dead should be spoken in a hush and breathed in a prayer, the way you speak the name of a dead child. The names should not be billboard-ed, screamed, or slogan-ed.

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