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Operation Tomodachi

   One of the better TV specials on the first year anniversary of the Tôhoku earthquake and tsunami Sunday spotlighted the massive disaster relief operation conducted by the U.S. Armed Forces known as Operation Tomodachi (Friend). Some 24,000 U.S. service members took part in the operation, which brought food and supplies to stranded communities as well as heavy equipment to help clean up the debris left by the tsunami. The relief effort, which cost $90 million and involved 189 aircraft and 24 naval ships, including the USS Ronald Reagan supercarrier and its battle group, earned American so much goodwill that six months on, 82% of Japanese, a record, said they had friendly feelings towards the United States. Why, it even made me feel proud to be an American for once.

   Now, compare that with Sunday’s murder of sixteen Afghan civilians at the hands of, we are told, a single 38-year-old American staff sergeant. As if the situation in Afghanistan weren’t already bad enough, this senseless crime will only serve to sow more seeds of hatred in that country’s rich soil of antipathy for the U.S. And Americans wondered after 9/11 why they were so hated.

   Here’s a wild idea: let’s pull the military out of Afghanistan. If Karzai can’t survive without us, why, he should stop pretending to be the country’s president. And rather than drop bombs on people, let’s start dropping relief packages with food and clothing, toys and books for the kids, tools and equipment for farmers.

   End the wars, begin Operation トモダチ, Operation Friend, Operation Amigo, Operation نَصير, Operation ملګرى , Operation 朋友, Operation 친구, Operation دوست. . . If anything, it’ll be hell of a lot cheaper than the $510 trillion and counting we’ve already blown on that one country alone.

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