Buckets of American blood were spilled in Afghanistan today. There are conflicting reports about exactly how many Americans died, ranging from five to thirteen, but we are linking the original AP report we saw this morning for a brief overview of the ambush, the suicide bombing, of a ‘NATO bus’ on which our troops were riding. The reason we are linking this report is because of the two sentences in it that caught our eye early this morning, and infuriated us –
NATO said 13 service members were killed, but a U.S. official confirmed they were all Americans. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Number one, we are just about sick to death of US officials speaking on condition of anonymity, whether in America or in Afghanistan. If they are indeed US officials, then they need to be identified, and especially if they are reporting to the press on American casualties in war. Number two, it was never explained in the article what the “sensitivity of the issue was”. Who was sensitive to it? NATO? The US official? The Obama administration? The US troops who had to pull their dead and dying comrades out of the rubble? It would be simplistic of us to say that this is war, and people get killed all the time, and there is nothing to be overly sensitive about, except to mourn the loss of life. That’s because this is Afghanistan, after all, and the (undeclared, unmentionable) War on Terror and Islamofascism.
But again, what is the issue that is sensitive here? We would like to ask the “US official”, but we don’t know who he is. He is anonymous. We could take any number of wild guesses, like it has to do with force protection, or battlefield decision-making, or relationships with Hamid Karzai, or NATO cohesion, or any number of ‘issues’. One thing we are pretty sure is an issue is the fact that the enemy knows we are on our way out of the theater and that everyone involved, from the NATO hierarchy, to the US government, to the US Command and filtering down to the troops, know that the gig is up and are focused on retreat rather than engagement. Sensitive? Oh, yes. As the clownish US Vice-President would say into the microphone, “It’s a big ****ing deal”.
What really bothers us about this latest report, though, is the circumstance, the type of attack. Apparently , troops were riding on a bus, for some reason or another, and apparently there was nothing between that bus and the enemy (the suicide bomber). No armed outriders, no scouts, no fixed or mobile detection devices. Just a bus going down a street in Kabul somewhere , oblivious to the fact that there was a war on.
So what is different about this attack than any other bombing, any of the other truck bombs, or vest bombs, or IED bombs numbering now in the, what, thousands? Nothing. Nothing is any different. Nothing has changed. This is unconventional warfare. This is guerilla warfare. This is Vietnam. This is 1985 Afghanistan. This is 2011 Iraq. This is the same thing, over and over and over again, with the same results – win all the initial battles and then change the rules of engagement, cut the funding and the force protection, keep pretending like it’s not a real war, and in the end, lose that war.
We cannot begin to tell you how exasperated and frustrated we are with ‘leadership’ in the United States of America. Setting aside the political questions, whether the Afghan adventure is in our national interest, or the moral issues, there is an abject abdication and void of leadership in every conceivable area of officialdom. From the White House, to the Congress, to the State Department, to the Intelligence Services and extending even to the Military Establishment.
This all didn’t come about just since the Obama administration took over. The “sensitizing” of America, otherwise known as having no vision, purpose, guiding principles or expected result, just wandering aimless through life trying to feel good about feeling good, has been in the works for decades. What concerns us about the prospect for America going forward is that in the last bastions of the defining and sine qua non characteristics of honor and professionalism, the US military services, at the topmost leadership and command levels, we see those virtues gone to hell.
To wit: Where is the General, or Admiral, or theater or allied commander standing there on the battlefield or sitting at his desk in Bahrain or Washington watching, in real time, his troops, unprotected, sometimes unarmed and always shackled by rules of engagement no warrior should ever be shackled by, get blown to bits, incinerated, decapitated, or made armless and legless without ever even getting a shot off. Where is that commander resigning his commission and going public with the whole sorry state of affairs that is United States war planning, tactics and strategy today?
Let’s be as blunt about this as possible – You do not tell a US infantryman that he is not allowed to shoot a ten-year-old child who comes running at him carrying or wearing something resembling a bomb or a grenade. And double dog dittos for any other personage or conveyance approaching your position unbidden and failing to halt. Should the soldier opt to pause, that’s his call, not yours. That’s about as basic as we can make it. You can proceed from there to calling in airstrikes, decimating a village, defoliating whole countrysides or using nuclear weaponry. Let the debates continue, but kill or be killed is not negotiable, whether on the mountainside or downtown Kabul. Maybe nothing could have been done to avert what happened in Kabul today, save not having the bus there in the first place. We are not there, but the point is, it just keeps happening over and over and over again.
You don’t nuance war. Police actions are for police forces, not armies. Rules of engagement are the Geneva convention, period. Which means that out- of- uniform combatants have no rights and summary execution is the preferred tactic. And finally, when to go to war, not how, (except for the authorization of the use of weapons of mass destruction, like 9 megaton thermonuclear devices) is the extent of civilian control of the military. The mission for Afghanistan should have been quite simple: secure the country. But whatever the mission statement, the continued practice of supplying American bodies for the enemy to perfect his IED or suicide bombing techniques on is criminal.
That this latest mass casualty attack happened in Kabul should put an emphasis on the point that, despite claims by both lefties and righties, for different purposes, that Afghanistan is going well, it is not. And had it been the only incident in Kabul in recent memory, it might have just been unfortunate, but it hasn’t. There have been several others. Kabul is not secure, and neither is Afghanistan. We even take it with a grain of salt when a battlefield commander in such-and-such a province says that his sector is secure. We do not believe anything coming from in-or- out of country anymore, and certainly absolutely nothing from the Pentagon, Langley or the White House. The Press? Forget about it.
The issue is sensitive? Oh, indeed it is. It is sensitive to the mothers and fathers and wives and sons and daughters of the fallen. It is sensitive to the amputees and the brain-damaged vets. It is sensitive to the warriors who keep having to pick up pieces of their brothers-in-arms by the sides of roads where the enemy is allowed to traverse and congregate at his convenience and his leisure. It is sensitive to those who notice the electronic and robotic and imaging capability of the remote controllers to play Xbox games and take out vehicles and human targets from Central Command, while they continue to get blown apart day after day after day by simple roadside explosive devices, or human or automotive kamikazes that our brilliant military commanders can’t seem to …….nuance.
No Navy, no Army, no Air Force, no tanks, no helicopters, no Predator drones. Just highly effective tactics and strategy, taking advantage when opportunity presents itself. Being committed. Waging war with every means available. Not being ‘sensitive’. That’s how they defeated the Soviet Union, sent them packing. And our ‘leaders’ learned nothing.
Again, not even considering the justness of our cause, but the efficacy of our actions, if there is no leadership, if there are only ‘anonymous’ US officials making unattributable statements and assessments, and clueless State Department and Administration heads, stammering and stuttering with “let me, um, make it clear, um, that we are, um, very engaged in this, um, effort”, and you add to it the spineless, robotic military leadership who continue doing the same thing expecting different results, or worse knowing the results will be the same, then yes, the issue is very sensitive. It is, in fact, intolerable.
We are not here going to get into the whole Iraq question. In less than two months there will be no more troops left there to be ambushed, sniped at, blown up or dragged through the streets when they are captured by ‘militants’, or ‘insurgents’ or ‘followers of Muqtada al Sadr’. But as in Afghanistan, after having won every engagement, every actual battle, even after winning a sizable number of hearts and minds, we will have lost the war. This, too, is intolerable.
When James Earl Carter was president, there was something called a ‘malaise’ in this country. It was in large part because of economic conditions brought on by Carter’s ineptitude and also the growing cancer of the leftist, statist bureaucracy and the Central Planning model for all aspects of our lives. But there was also the loss of prestige, influence and capability on the international scene highlighted by our bungling and cluelessness when dealing with Islamic and Marxist dictatorships, none more prominent than the Iran hostage fiasco. There was a leadership vacuum, not just in the Oval Office, but at all levels. And the committed, both those opposed to America overseas and those opposed to America here in America, took full advantage.
The similarities between that period and the one we are in now are stunning. We are……sensitive….to that. But we know that there can come a new day, a new ‘morning in America’. It takes leadership, and the inspiration for follow-on leadership. It happened in 1980 and it can happen in 2012. We need to look for it; we need to recognize it when it presents itself; we need to support it.
In the meantime, pray for our country. Speak up for our country. Look for conservative candidates for office to support. Volunteer your time, or your money if you have any left to spare. And not just as an afterthought but, being ‘sensitive’ to the issue, try to think of ways to educate, encourage and include the youth in your sphere of influence in this project. They are the biggest stakeholders of all, and when we get real leaders again, it would be nice to have followers who appreciate their leadership.
God bless America. God bless our fighting men and women, and you people hang tough out there. Someday you will be allowed to complete the mission and you will be able to rest knowing your children are safe, and free.