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Page 17
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Dear American Public

By Charles Henderson

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As a Afghanistan Veteran I'm speaking out against NATO, for reasons of my belief that our presence is causing more damage to the country of Afghanistan than good.

The American public forgot about Afghanistan for such a long time, the focus was on Iraq because it was such a controversial war. Afghanistan was considered the good war at one time, now look at the outcome.

When I was in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010 as part of the surge, the situation wasn't getting better. I realized that the people of Afghanistan didn't want us there anymore. I remember seeing racism, which bothered me, against the people of Farah Province. As a Black and Mexican person myself I would tell the soldiers especially the minorities it's not right that we treat them like this with racist comments. How can we do this, when we as people of color, dealt with this problem for so many years in the United States and till this day are still dealing with this issue of hatred of race and religion?

We have been in Afghanistan for over 10 years now, the longest war in US history. It should be obvious to the politicians — after being there so long we need to get out of Afghanistan. American taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on this war we cannot win, money that could be used to create new jobs, and help this recession in our country. The government is making cutbacks on simple things that average Americans need in their communities, like clinics, after school programs, and education. In the US, we have our own problems — look at the inner cities, violence across the nation, and the poverty there. Sad to say, the inner city is where the military recruits many people, not at the cost of a politician's or lobbyist's child, no it's us average Americans who suffer. It's always been a poor man and woman's fight.

The United States should've learned from the mistakes made by the Soviet Union and the British in Afghanistan. Nobody has ever conquered or won a war there, the Afghanis are a proud people with a rich history. That's why they call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires. I'm calling on the people of the United States to come out to Chicago, my hometown, and give NATO a piece of our mind. As Emiliano Zapata said, "I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees."

Charles Henderson was in the Army's 82 Airborne Division. He's an Afghanistan Veteran, the IVAW Chicago Chapter Secretary and a member of the AVAW committee, DLO, Black Caucasus, WRL, and IRFP.

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