WW-II was fought with a “citizen army,” and those not in uniform fought on the “home front.” Today, there is no home front, and wars, writes Jake Tapper, in The Outpost, are “outsourced by the American people to our government in DC, and to the military.” He quotes a recently retired general:
“The American people are no more connected to our armed forces than the Roman citizens were to legionnaires. And now we even pay for wars with tax cuts, so whose war and whose Army is it?”
The attackers of the World Trade Center, trained in Afghanistan, were a compelling reason to send in troops, so on October 7, 2001, less than a month after 9/11, Operation Enduring Freedom, a coalition of American, British, Australian, and French forces, entered Afghanistan. Thus reinforced, Afghanis defeated the Taliban in a matter of weeks. But 11 years later, and counting, we’re still there. It is America’s longest war.
Afghanistan lacks roads, electricity, piped water, schools, hospitals, communications, and has a rural culture that deems women chattels, good only for physical labor and producing offspring. The men, freed of real responsibility, fight turf wars and blood feuds, uniting only in xenophobic hatred of foreigners.
Now, facing a resurgent Taliban, the U.S. is working to help the Afghan National Army (ANA) empower the nation to take command of its own destiny. In Combat Outpost Keating, ANA troops had their own barracks, and although some were cowardly and useless, others fought to the end. Readying the ANA is the primary mission today. When President Obama announced that American troops would be gone by July, 2014, it was a direct challenge to the ANA, but drew fire from Senator John McCain.
"You cannot tell the enemy when you're leaving, when you're in warfare, and expect your strategy to prevail," said McCain. who will always live in the glow of his heroism as a North Korean POW. But a hero isn’t necessarily a strategic thinker, and McCain has already shown alarmingly bad judgement (Sarah Palin for Vice-President). His behavior as a U.S. Senator forces one to note that he graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy. Son and grandson of four-star admirals, there was no way they could allow him to flunk out.
Army Capt. Stoney Portis, climbing down from an observation post into besieged Combat Outpost Keating, counted insurgent bodies, stopping at 100 with at least that many still uncounted. Americans lost 9, including one who died months later in the U.S.A. during treatment for PTSD. U.S. troops, holding off hundreds of insurgent fighters, destroyed and left Keating after the battle.
The end of Jake Tapper’s mighty book notes that an unmentioned problem in that area is Pakistan, where the Taliban can cross the border at will, have safe haven, and recruit fighters. With its atomic bomb, Pakistan is a problem that makes Afghanistan look easy. One shudders to think how a rigid ideologue would handle it. The U.S. has a President with suppleness of mind, and in place of a citizen army, the valiant professionals described in The Outpost. Both need and deserve the full support of the American people.
(Last post on The Outpost)