The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

How many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago? Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again.

The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in our country as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime.

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry.

We condemned children to death, some after many days of writhing in pain on bloodstained mats, without pain relievers. Some died quickly, wasted by missing arms and legs, crushed heads. As the fluids ran out of their bodies, they appeared like withered, spoiled fruits. They could have lived, certainly should have lived – and laughed and danced, and run and played- but instead they were brutally murdered. Yes, murdered!

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The McGlynn

War News

AP: Wreaths Across America ceremony remembers the fallen, and one mother who lost her son in Iraq always attends

Seven wreaths went up Saturday at the Roseburg National Cemetery Annex at the annual Wreaths Across America event commemorating the veterans who died for their country, along with prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Relatively sparse attendance at this year’s ceremony may have been due to the cold weather. But one woman sitting quietly in the second row said she never misses it.

Thirteen years ago, Darlene Moore’s son U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. James Moore was the first of Douglas County’s sons to die in Iraq after 9/11.

After the ceremony, Darlene Moore and others laid many wreaths on the graves of the fallen. She laid one for her son and one for her father-in-law. They’re buried side by side at the old Roseburg National Cemetery on West Harvard Avenue.

It’s people like her who have borne the true cost of war, and no ceremony can give her back what she’s lost. James Moore, like many young men, entered the military for idealistic reasons. He was deeply affected by the 9/11 attack, Darlene Moore said.

Moore didn’t want her only son to join the military. She told him she’d need him to take care of her in her old age — to no effect.

“He couldn’t wait to get over there. That’s the way boys are,” she said.

Moore died Jan. 26, 2005, when his helicopter was caught in a sandstorm. He was 25 — killed when his mother still thought of him as a boy.

“You know how boys play Army, play war. He wanted to protect his family. He didn’t want the war to come to (his niece’s) backyard,” she said.

She recalled that when the Marines came to her door to inform her of her son’s death, she lost it. She kicked them, but they just stood at attention, tears in their eyes. She couldn’t accept it. But the Marines remained for eight days to help them through the transition. Later, she thanked them.

Even now, laying a wreath at her son’s grave, she said she felt like she was going to have a heart attack. She could feel her heart pumping and her hands were wet.

She’ll be back at the grave again on Christmas Eve. Every year the family places candles at the graves of James and his grandfather James Alvin Moore. Usually it’s foggy, and the light illuminates the fog.

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NYT: At Least 20 Afghan Civilians Killed in Airstrike – Officials

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — At least 20 Afghan civilians, including 12 children, were killed in an airstrike targeting a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Kunar late on Friday, local officials said.

The strike, against local Taliban commander Sharif Mawiya, was the latest in a series targeting senior insurgents, including the shadow governor of the strategic southern province of Helmand, who was killed on Dec. 2.

Several Taliban military commanders have been killed this month by Afghan forces, backed by U.S. advisers and air power.

The tactic has raised the risk of civilian casualties and Abdul Latif Fazly, a member of the provincial council, said eight women and 12 children were killed and more than 15 others wounded in Friday’s airstrike.

However a spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission denied that there were civilian deaths, although she said some civilians were wounded.

“The Taliban continue to use civilians as shields and barricade themselves inside compounds while engaging the Afghan forces,” said Debra Richardson of Resolute Support.

She said U.S. airstrikes were supporting the new Afghan army strategy of targeting the entire Taliban organization, from low level fighters to high ranking leaders.

“We have reports over 40 Taliban fighters were killed in the Afghan-led operations, supported by U.S. air strikes in Kunar province,” said Richardson.

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President Ashraf Ghani, center, at the opening ceremony in Herat, Afghanistan, on Thursday for a key economic initiative. Videos that emerged from the event were far less flattering.CreditJalil Rezayee/EPA, via Shutterstock

HERAT, Afghanistan — It was supposed to be a grand moment for President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan — the opening of a new trade corridor that brought his landlocked country a link to Europe through Central Asia, and promised him some rare positive news as a re-election campaign approaches.

But what grabbed the headlines after Thursday’s event was chaos and violence.

Members of the president’s staff, in front of hundreds of people, assaulted a young member of the crowd who wanted to hand a petition to the president. Videos posted on social media in the days since portray an even more chaotic scene, with the president screaming at and slapping one of his own aides for mistreating the young man.

Mr. Ghani’s elite guards, the Presidential Protective Service, continued to assault the man once he was taken out of the president’s sight, footage suggests, and he remains in detention.

It was not an isolated incident. Those who guard senior Afghan officials — undoubtedly a difficult task in one of the most dangerous countries in the world — have repeatedly assaulted civilians, including journalists. In most cases, there is no indication that anyone was held accountable, further fueling a widespread culture of violence with impunity.

The meeting this past week, attended by diplomats and dignitaries, happened in the western city of Herat, where Mr. Ghani inaugurated what is called the Lapis Lazuli Corridor. The corridor makes it possible for Afghanistan to export its goods to Europe through Central Asia — a priority for Mr. Ghani not just to boost his own trade, but also to build regional consensus around peace in Afghanistan.

As Mr. Ghani finished his speech at a packed hall and walked from the stage, Raees Wafa, 18, stood up in the crowd and shouted that he wanted a minute with the president to give him a petition about injustice against his own family, video from the event shows.

The young man was unlikely to have posed an immediate physical threat — before being allowed near the Afghan president, he would almost certainly have gone through multiple checks by the Presidential Protection Service.

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ALJ: Opinion  The Afghan government should not be sidelined in peace talks

The US and Russia have bypassed the Afghan government and engaged the Taliban directly. This could be disastrous.

At last month’s Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, it was clear that the presidential elections were less than five months away. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani put a lot of effort into making sure he appeared to be the right man for his job.

He took the opportunity to read out a list of achievements in the areas of security, women’s rights, justice and the anti-corruption effort. As usual, international donors applauded the achievements, re-affirmed their support for the Afghan government, and pledged more military and humanitarian aid.

But President Ghani did not stop there. He also announced a “roadmap to peace” his administration had prepared in order to launch peace talks with the Taliban. As part of that plan, he announced the formation of a 12-members team, headed by presidential chief of staff Salam Rahimi, to engage in direct negotiations with the Taliban. Ghani made it clear that the peace process has to be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”, implying his administration cannot be excluded from the process.

The Afghan president has been facing major challenges at home, suffering a number of major failures on the political and security fronts. Against the backdrop of a deteriorating situation at home, launching and owning a peace process seems to be the only achievement that can ensure his political survival and potential re-election next year.

In this sense, the conference in Geneva was an opportunity for him to convince the international community that the Afghan government possesses the operational capacity to bring the Taliban to political reconciliation through diplomatic means. Ghani also declared that he was running in the next presidential race in order to “finish the job” and warned the international community of dire consequences if his reforms and peace plan were abandoned.

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Taliban’s military commission chief killed in coalition airstrike in Helmand

The officials in southern Helmand province are saying that the military commission chief of the Taliban Haji Barakat has been killed in an airstrike of the coalition forces in Greshk district.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the coalition forces carried out airstrikes on Taliban hideouts in Yakhchal area of Greshk district, leaving the military commission chief of the group for Yakhchal area dead.

The statement further added that two other accomplices of Haji Barakat were also killed in the airstrikes and another militant was wounded.

A hatchback type vehicle and a motorcycle were also destroyed during the same airstrike, the provincial government added.

At least two militants were killed and a motorcycle was destroyed n a separate airstrike conducted in Washir district, according to provincial government.

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Newly-appointed female Afghan mayor barred from taking office

The newly-appointed mayor of Maidan Shahr city, the provincial capital of Maidan Wardak province, has been barred from assuming office.

Zarifa Ghafari was appointed as the mayor of Maidan Shahr city nearly five months ago and was due to assume office during a ceremony on Saturday.

However, Ghafari has reportedly been barred from assuming office as the newly-appointed mayor due to the intervention of influential figures.

Ghafari has said she has been residing in Kabul for the past five months and has not been able to assume charge of Maidan Shahr municipality so far.

She was appointed as the mayor of Maidan Shahr based on a presidential decree and her appointment was confirmed by the provincial government as per decree.

According to Ghafari, she has been barred from assuming the office due to the interventions of haji Ghulam Mohammad who is the brother of Haji Mohammad Musa, president Ghani’s aide.

Haji Ghulam has confirmed his intervention and claims that Ghafari has been elected as the mayor by committing forgery.

This comes as efforts are underway to increase the role of women in the government leadership and the country’s first female mayor was appointed for Neli city of Daikundi province few months back.

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Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Sgt. Jason Mitchell McClary, 24, from Export, Pennsylvania, died Dec. 2, 2018, in Landstuhl, Germany, as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device on Nov. 27, 2018, in Andar District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

McClary was assigned to 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers and one airman who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

The service members died Nov. 27, 2018, from injuries sustained when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

The soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The airman was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The incident is under investigation.

The deceased are:

Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Virginia.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania.

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD Program Locator to find a PTSD program.

If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

Please do not forget the children.

The McGlynn