Obama Not Playing For Afghan Win

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - August 31, 2011
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U.S. Marine Scout-Snipers Sgt. Travis Beattie (left) and Cpl. Eric Stainbrook of Sniper Platoon, 3/4 Marines, look for Taliban fighters Aug. 24 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. AP photo/Brennan Linsley

The recent shoot-down of a U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan that killed 38 of our elite troops (eight Afghans, 22 highly trained American SEALS, three Air Force air controllers, the helo crew and a specially trained canine) was the single worst combat disaster of our decade long effort there. It cut to the American heart like a shard of broken glass. And unless our president junks his strategy for certain defeat, it’s likely to get worse.

After the shoot-down, the Taliban and its al-Qaida sidekicks danced on the wreckage figuratively speaking claiming revenge against SEAL Team 6 for the assassination of bin Laden.

If they could really make that connection, it’s all the more evident. The White House played too loosely with the post-mission details of the Pakistan raid, not to mention the diplomatic failure resulting in Chinese and Russian access to the top secret technology on the helo that went down in bin Laden’s compound.

A month or so ago I quoted the president from Bob Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars. While negotiating with his generals and security advisers for a troop withdrawal date, pushing for sooner rather than later, the president showed his true stripes: “I’m not going to lose the whole Democratic Party on this!” The clear implication: Rather than lose the support of his party in the 2012 election, he’d rather risk losing the war. And lose we will.


The helo and all souls aboard were lost even as the first increment of U.S. troops was being withdrawn.

As the drawdown of troops progresses while the fighting continues, our soldiers will be stretched even thinner, making those remaining more and more vulnerable. The stand-up of Afghan army and police to replace departing U.S. troops remains problematic, both culturally and technically. They are intrinsically capable, they just need more time.

As the Afghan people consider their future political landscape, and the self-defeating U.S. strategy becomes more evident, how can we hope to continue winning them over to our side when there’s a good chance as they see it the Taliban will be in control of their lives again after our withdrawal? And the Taliban has a long memory.

OK, so why does Coffee keep hammering away at the president on his inability to even use the word “win” or “victory,” and his obvious lack of commitment to either, you may ask?

I sacrificed more than seven years of my life as a POW in Communist North Vietnam (which is nothing compared to the sacrifice of any one of the 58,000-plus names on the wall in D.C.) to help ensure our allies in South Vietnam had a decent shot at freedom and democracy instead of the cruel and oppressive Communist regime in the North.

Stopping the spread of communism throughout Southeast Asia was no small thing either. And after fighting there for eight painful years to essentially achieve those goals militarily, our Democratic Congress, capitalizing on President Nixon’s popular disfavor and preoccupation with the Watergate scandal, and playing to the rabid, liberal anti-war clamor, cut off the continued military aid, supplies and air support we had promised after our withdrawal, leaving the South Vietnamese people and their army hung out to dry.

Two years later the Communists rolled into Saigon. If I and most Americans who had sacrificed many to the ultimate to keep that from happening could even figure out how to


feel about it, we might have felt better. As I have said many times, our political “leaders” had snatched defeat from the jaws of our victory.

We have already proven once that, with resolve, we can defeat the Shariadriven Taliban and give the Afghan people a decent chance for a free and prosperous life and, by the way, enhance our own national security by denying al-Qaida and other terrorist groups another base of operations no small thing!

If we fail because of the president’s strategy based upon a lack of commitment to victory, he alone (another Democratic political “leader”) will have snatched defeat from the jaws of our victory.

But then, he’s too young to recall the refrain from a poignant anti-war song of the ‘60s: “When will we ever learn, when will we evvvver learn?”

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