Some must die so that the political careers of others can flourish. That is Article 1 of the Obama Administration’s new Code of Military Justice. Barack Obama has made the Afghan war, his war. This means that while more American men and women must die, it is all for a good cause because victory is around the corner (at least until after the November elections).
Independent sources continue to detail grim war news. As America continues its retreat from Afghanistan, Taliban attacks are increasing, as are U.S. casualties. There is a decline in all of the key nation-building metrics. One reason for this growing debacle is the absence of a coherent strategy. U.S. forces are fighting day to day, with nothing but darkness visible at the end of the tunnel. The Kabul Press has championed a viable and professional counterinsurgency strategy, but nothing will seemingly deter the Pentagon and State Department from defeat. A new book by Rajiv Chandrasekaram called “Little America” details some of the frustrations of those American officials who understand the conflict and want to win, but have been prevented from doing so.
The only Obama Administration strategy that can be discerned from its comments and actions is that it is in prayer mode. The President and his Secretaries of State and Defense are praying that the Taliban either surrenders or just goes away. If a Taliban victory is inevitable, then lives are being lost, and service men and women are being horribly maimed every day for nothing. The President of the United States owes a special duty to military members and their families not to send forces into hostilities where the effort is futile or where crucial U.S. strategic interests are not at risk. Once put into danger, they must not be kept there a moment longer than necessary.
Senior officials at the Pentagon, beginning with the lackluster General Marty Dempsey, have chosen to support the reelection of President Obama at the expense of their duty to their troops in the field. President Obama has boosted their pitiful careers, so they have opted to reply in kind. As politics has replaced leadership and honor, the theme is that the war in Afghanistan remains on-course, with progress everywhere to be seen. As the war seems likely lost, admitting such, withdrawing our forces and preventing unnecessary casualties is not an option because it would highlight the fact that President Obama has misled the American public and that he has badly botched the war effort.
To America’s general officer corps, providing an honest battlefield assessment would be unthinkable.
If solders, Marines and sailors have to die or face the rest of their life maimed, that is acceptable collateral damage. The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.
The rash of killings of American troops by Afghan security forces provides a textbook example of a general officer corps that is resistant to change or criticism, and incapable of decisive action. It is a corps of consensus-driven politicians obsessed with their own petty careers instead of the safety of U.S. forces.
America has a first class military, commanded by a third-rate general officer corps.
That corps’ solution is to ignore all negative news about the Afghanistan “success” story. As the casualties mount the official silence has never been so loud.
Last week General Dempsey flew into Bagram airbase for a briefing on the upsurge in American deaths. His C-17 transport was promptly rocketed by the Taliban and knocked out of commission. Officially, base officials claimed that the rocket was a lucky shot, but the evidence suggests otherwise. The Taliban fired two rockets into the sprawling base and one just happened to strike next to the aircraft of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? A recurring problem for the U.S. military is that its statements regarding Afghanistan have little credibility. The Taliban have once again demonstrated their ability to strike anyway, anytime and at any target they wish.
Marty’s trip of course produced nothing. He did not hold a press conference; no new initiatives were announced and General John Allen (U.S. Commander in Afghanistan) then issued his canned press release announcing that the Afghan war effort remains on-track (which no one believes). Marty then hobbled out of Afghanistan on a second C-17. He returned to the Pentagon where he huddled with his other generals and admirals in an attempt to try and reach a consensus on what to do next. To them, leadership means endlessly staffing an issue until all objections to a new half-hearted compromise policy are resolved.
On August 23, 2012, General Allen, desperate to shift blame away from the Administration’s failed policies in Afghanistan, bizarrely pointed the finger at Ramadan fasting as the cause for the wave of killings.
Allen claimed that fasting can cause someone to pick up a weapon and murder people!
If this ridiculous theory was true, countries where fasting is common, such as India, Nepal and Tibet, would have the world’s highest murder rates. The American news media reported on Allen’s claims without any reputable editor pronouncing the comments as nonsense.
The American news media helps to foster this charade. On August 24, 2012, the Boston Globe selected Pentagon insider Peter Brooks to provide an opinion piece on the “green on blue” attacks. Mr. Brooks promptly pronounced the attacks as “cowardly” (without explaining why that is so). His article had no statistics, analysis or solutions, leaving the reader to wonder about the Globe’s editorial policy.
The new U.S. Ambassador to Kabul, James Cunningham, held a news conference last week in which he stated, “We have a chance now of a path forward with a long term perspective that will produce the results.” Boiled now to honest speaking, Cunningham is saying that there is a possibility of achieving success in the long term. The U.S. Government should not be risking American lives on such a flimsy hope.
The belief within the Pentagon is that positive speeches and press releases will translate into battlefield victories. In reality, the truth should spur innovation and adaptation, which may lead to battlefield victories. It has been said that truth is the first casualty in war. That is accurate as long as wars continue to be waged by dishonest generals and politicians.
In ancient Rome, when Roman Legions were sent on foolhardy campaigns, the Legions had the option of returning to Rome, “crossing the Tiber” and changing the government. With an election scheduled for November, a change in government remains a viable option.