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Viet Nam to Afghanistan – When Will We Learn?

The leaders of our country have demonstrated once again that they cannot be trusted to make intelligent, logical, or sane decisions regarding when it is in America’s interest in sending troops to another country to take part in their internal conflicts. To quote from an article by Barry Shaw at American Thinker, “When will America ever learn that, in the primitive world of the Middle East and parts of Asia, you can’t make democracy-loving peacemakers out of corrupt thugs and ideology-driven killers?”

In addition to that un-learned lesson, the genius class at the Pentagon, State Department, and White House all ignored the lessons on how to fight a war by making winning the ultimate goal.

We lost 55,000 plus in Viet Nam.  Many of them died due to the 3 words every grunt, fighter pilot, and sailor dread hearing – Rules of Engagement.  These rules, in many cases, are put in place for fear of aggressive action getting bad press, putting our forces in danger.  I guess the military leaders of WWII must have gone to a different West Point, because Allied forces bombed entire enemy cities that contained strategic military and industrial operations, knowing that there would be civilian casualties.  But that’s how wars were fought back “in the old days.”   General Dwight Eisenhower directed the massive D-Day invasion of Normandy.  He met with a group before the launch telling how important but dangerous their mission would be.  It was just understood that many of them would not be coming home.   I guess Eisenhower didn’t care too much about what the New York Times might say about him.  And, by the way, America won that war.

In Afghanistan and Iraq, you have probably heard the reports and seen some of the video of fighter pilots orbiting a target, waiting to get approval from some military legal mind thousands of miles away to take out their target.  No doubt there had to be discussions by those decision makers as to how the press might react.

So here we are, twenty years after entering Afghanistan.  In that time, $2 trillion was expended, over 2,000 Americans dead and multiple thousands more severely wounded.  I am in the camp that thinks it was justified going there to take out the leader and mastermind of the 2001 attack on our country and wipe out the terrorist training camps and fighters.  The problem as I see it, as well as many other commenters, was in staying and trying to turn the country into a western style democracy, including the goal of “changing hearts and minds”, borrowed from that other adventure, the Iraq war.  It is especially ludicrous when the population doesn’t like you.  See the quote in the first paragraph above.

The current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley was in charge of training that army, and the taxpayers supplied them with quality weapons.  When push came to shove, they didn’t just abandon their weapons, they gave them to the Taliban.  Well, except for the ones that joined them.  Those soldiers must not have heard Joe Biden announce publicly just a few days ago that there was no reason to think the Taliban was going to take over the country, because the Afghan army outnumbered the Taliban 300,000 to about 75,000.  And he assured us there was not going to be a recurrence of the 1975 American Embassy scene in Saigon, no helicopter lifting off from the embassy roof, not on his watch.  After all, he did beg the Taliban to not interfere with the embassy evacuation, so no worries.  It is too soon to tell if any helicopters could even get to the embassy.  Mark Milley has not commented, and Biden has retreated to Camp David.

In 2014, Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the following regarding Joe Biden, “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades”.  Let’s make that four decades plus 7 years.

While it is true that there is consensus that withdrawal from Afghanistan was overdue, like about 18 years overdue, this departure cannot be characterized as anything but an embarrassing disaster, despite what the White House’s own version of Baghdad Bob, Jen Psaki, might tell the press pool.

I heard former congressman Trey Gowdy ask an important question today, “Did we achieve our goal in Afghanistan?” I would add, “what the hell was the goal?” I anxiously await the answer to that question by the White House, Pentagon, and State Department.  I just do not want to hear any of them tell the families of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice that their loved ones did not die in vain.  That would defy logic.

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Dave Agusta is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative. He is an Air Force Veteran, a solid conservative, and a true patriot.