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The cost of war

   Heading into Memorial Day weekend:

- People must face the reality of war - Ben Perrone/My View/The Buffalo News
   ... War, like business, has a balance sheet. The number of casualties plus the dollars spent and other Perrone factors can be divided by our eagerness to prove a point, even if there really isn’t one. But there are hidden costs to doing business and hidden costs of war. They have been hidden under those flags that drape the returning coffins we seldom see. They are hidden in the wards of veterans’ hospitals where soldiers fight to regain their mobility or learn to use their prostheses. Sometimes they can be seen in the vacant looks of men walking down the street, home but not really there. These costs may turn up on police blotters, too, when a veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder goes off the deep end. ...
   In the end, we don’t know what the cost of war is. We have been too insulated. We’re fighting our own small battles with life and not paying close attention. We can, however, get a glimpse of that cost if we look into the eyes of a father or a mother who has just been told that his or her son is not coming home from the war. There is no number for that cost. We should consider this before we decide that war is the answer.
   Ben Perrone is a longtime Buffalo artist with an exhibit titled “War Ongoing Project” now at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

    Related:
- Afghanistan: America's longest war   - Rick Hampson/USA Today
   Three months after 9/11, every major Taliban city in Afghanistan had fallen — first Mazar-i-Sharif, then Kabul, finally Kandahar. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar were on the run. It looked as if the war was Longestwar over, and the Americans and their Afghan allies had won.
   Butch Ivie, then a school administrator in Winfield, Ala., remembers, "We thought we'd soon have it tied up in a neat little bag."
   But
bin Laden and Omar eluded capture. The Taliban regrouped. Today, Kandahar again is up for grabs. And soon, Afghanistan will pass Vietnam as America's longest war.

- US toll reaches 1,000 deaths in Afghanistan war - Robert H. Reid/AP/Buffalo News
   The American military death toll in Afghanistan reached 1,000 at a time when President Barack Obama's strategy to turn back the Taliban is facing its greatest test - an ambitious campaign to win over a disgruntled population in the insurgents' southern heartland.
   More casualties are expected when the campaign kicks into high gear this summer. The results may determine the outcome of a nearly nine-year conflict that became "Obama's war" after he decided to shift the fight against Islamist militancy from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Afghan insurgents find sanctuary.
   The grim milestone was reached in a roadside bombing just before the Memorial Day weekend, when America honors the dead in all its wars.
   The NATO statement did not identify the victim or give the nationality of the service member killed Friday in southern Afghanistan. U.S. spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks said the trooper was American - the 32nd U.S. war death this month by an Associated Press count.

- America's 'casualty gap' - Los Angeles Times
   On Memorial Day we honor the brave men and women in uniform. In doing so, we shouldn't overlook a hidden aspect of war: the socioeconomic inequality in who makes the ultimate sacrifice for the nation.

- Obama's Forgettable New Strategy - Leslie H. Gelb/The Daily Beast
   To shape a true strategy, the president must establish and explain priorities. In the Obama document, everything seems to be a top priority.

- Karzai's Delayed Peace Jirga: Any Chance of Success? - Abigail Hauslohner/Time
   Afghan President Hamid Karzai's heavily trumpeted peace jirga — a proposed grand assembly meant to build national consensus toward a path of reconciliation with the Taliban — has been delayed for a second time, from a start date of late this week to June 2. The National Consultative Peace Jirga Preparation Commission says the delay merely accounts for logistics — that not all of the attending delegates would have been able to make it on time.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Gas and go

Saturday, we ran a reader-submitted My View column on the tough economy and the choice between trusting car repairs to a friend who fixes cars on the side or to a garage. The reader went with the friend, to the annoyance of her long-standing garageman.

That touched a bit of a nerve, not just on car repairs but on small-business survival and the plight of garages that employ folks while facing unfair competition. We might see more of that, in more arenas, as the recession deepens. You think?