At Fort Lewis yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden was talking about the toll of war when he said the seven dead soldiers they were honoring were "decent, ordinary" people who became extraordinary in battle. At Fort Hood, President Barack Obama was talking about a war toll of a slightly different nature, the "incomprehensible" slaying of 13 officers and soldiers by one of their own.
That is the short view, admirable but indecisive, one you hope they're not taking as the White House decides whether to expand the pointless battle in Afghanistan, where patrols go out to draw fire so they can see where the enemy is, and whether to continue the bloody waiting game in Iraq, where patrols go on walks to find where the roadside bombs are. It is not so much strategy as it is suicide.The longer view is, in part, the historical perspective on Seattle Weekly's War Dead pages, where the obits and photos of the seven Fort Lewis soldiers honored yesterday and 17 other men and women were just added. They bring the Southwest Asia toll of troops with Washington state connections to 343 - and, of course, counting. Those faces ask what Obama, in his 11th month, is ever going to do about the war policies he so abhorred but nonetheless continues.
In the words of one of those honored by Biden yesterday, Stryker Spc. Jared Stanker, 22, (above, in better days on Lake Michigan) writing on his Facebook page: "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Particularly while other good men die for it.