Country must come before political party

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For the past four years a Democratic president has systematically undercut progressive politics in our country. Imitating Bush II's surge in Iraq, Obama tripled the troop level and implemented his own surge in Afghanistan, where we are still hopelessly engaged.

Today's bleak Pentagon report (New York Times) finds that, in a war that has cost us $500 billion since 2001, "violence is higher" now in Afghanistan than it was before the Obama surge.

In that light, let us note these catastrophic human ramifications of the Bush II-Obama War Years:

6,627 U.S. service members have died in two useless wars.

50,159 have been wounded.

Roughly 400,000 post-deployment veterans have been treated for mental health conditions.

In the first 155 days of 2012, 154 active-duty U.S. troops committed suicide.

The Guantanamo gulag is still operating and the Obama administration has expanded the practice of surveillance and suspension of constitutional rights.

Like Bush II, Obama refused to sign the Landmine Ban Treaty and when, in July 2012, he pulled out of the U.N. treaty to regulate global arms trade, Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, called it " a staggering abdication of leadership by the world's largest exporter of conventional weapons."

It is tragically ironic that our presidential Nobel Peace Laureate has greatly expanded the use of unmanned drone attacks even in countries with which we are not at war. Under Obama, American drones have taken lives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. We started "droning" in Yemen to stop al Qaeda, but al Qaeda has expanded there and we have become its prime recruiter.

Without clearly defined standards and procedures, Obama's drone killing machine has led to the death of more than 900 civilians, including 178 children in Pakistan and Yemen.

Since Obama has failed us in these crucial areas (and several others as well), it was impossible for me to vote for him a second time. I am in absolute disbelief when I witness Democratic silence regarding these issues, because I know absolutely that Democrats would be out in the streets if a Republican president had been doing these same things.

But we live in the "Age of the Political Party." John Huntsman's political career ended when, chided by Romney for having served as an ambassador under Obama, he had the decency to say: "My country will always come before my party."

Patrick Henry

Walla Walla

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