The Toll of 2,000

Amid the skewed data, misinformation, outright lies and obscene money numbers pushing the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, another number continues to be ignored in the hearts and minds of too many Americans.

The New York Times reported this week that 2,000 now have died in Afghanistan, including 36 from Pennsylvania, four from Philadelphia.

The Times on Wednesday used four full pages to show the photos of the American dead so far in this decade-plus long war.

When you look at the faces and ages – so many in their teens and early 20’s – it’s hard not to get angry, hard not to question decisions made by two administrations that led to such large, irretrievable loss.

The Times reports the first 1,000 casualties took nine years while the second 1,000 took 27 months, the latter a time period covering the “surge” ordered by President Obama in 2010 that sent an additional 33,000 troops to the country.

There’s also a sickening trend in which Afghan troops we are training are killing our own.

“This year, another threat emerged: an intensified wave of attacks by Afghan security forces. In just the past two weeks, at least 9 Americans have been killed in such insider attacks. For the year to date, at least 40 NATO service members, most of them American, have been killed by either active members of the Afghan forces or attackers dressed in their uniforms – already outstripping the toll from all last year,” the Times reports.

I have long railed against the cost in lives lost and money spent on unwinnable wars for who knows what in places embattled for thousands of years while our own economy suffers, our own families struggle, our systems of education and health care decline and our infrastructure crumbles.

I’ve argued that the policies of Presidents Bush and Obama regarding Afghanistan represent misplaced priorities. I wish every American could look at the photos of those who have died and tell me I’ve been wrong.