In today’s New York Times there is an article written by Alison Smale called a Somber Warning on Afghanistan in which she outlines Doctor Brzezinski’s speech this weekend to a group of military and government big wigs. He warned us. We are closely following the Soviet path in Afghanistan and will meet the same exact fate as they did unless we make a course correction immediately. He was the National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter and he grew up in Soviet occupied Poland.
I don’t have the insights he does. I do not have access to the briefings, the old friends in the intelligence community, the tweed jacketed and Ivy League egg-heads at the best universities in the world that he does. I don’t have his connections. I am not educated in foreign affairs the way he is. But I have eyes and ears and I can think.
I believe he is right about this. It does not take a genius IQ to see that whatever the mission was or is in Afghanistan, we have failed to achieve it.
Now, I am not bright enough, connected enough or even tuned-in enough to know what damage leaving Afghanistan will do to us as a nation.
But I know the damage that not leaving Afghanistan is doing to us. Just read this site for a week. The damage to our nation on a hundred different levels is obvious. You can find it all spelled out here every single day. Just read the comments to the articles.
We have shattered young people, confused old people, a splintered veterans’ community, a military and naval officer corps that looks downright foolish and out of touch (especially at the highest levels) and a sitting President who refuses to act swiftly on campaign promises to get our people out of there.
I am here to tell you, confused does not properly describe my feelings on the matter. I am downright numb.
I have a daughter who works for the ACLU and is an active Democrat in Philadelphia. I have a son in law who is a young Republican to the max, pulled a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Army Rangers and five tours in Iraq as a Blackwater contractor (mercenary, soldier of fortune, what else?) and I am caught politically somewhere between these two. To say that my immediate family is split on this issue of the wars in western Asia is the understatement of the century.
I just want these young people home. Enough already. I don’t know what the dangers are of leaving Iraq and Afghanistan now. They might be very big. But I don’t know what they are. The government under Bush AND under Obama is not telling me. It is largely silent on what the issues are here, so I cannot make an informed decision. The government won’t give me the information to make that decision. So, I am going to make it on common sense values.
I don’t see the advantage of staying in western Asia from my vantage point as a totally disabled veteran, a Coast Guard retiree, a retired GS-13 from the Smithsonian Institution, a father, a grandfather, a Virginia Democrat, an American of my generation with three master’s degrees, two bachelor’s degrees and 26 credits toward my Ph.D.. I just don’t see the advantage anymore, if in fact I ever saw an advantage to these wars.
These are wars without end for unclear reasons (I am being kind here) with dead people everywhere for strategic and tactical reasons that remain beyond my ken eight years into the fight. It is time to withdraw from the field. Combat must end. It has now reached the point of senseless killing for the sake of national ego.
No more killing and no more dying unless we can be clearly told by our government under this President why it needs to continue. And even then, we the taxpayers should get the final say.
I am sick to death of death for no other reason than that is how the powerful and completely out of touch want things to be. This is the very essence of immorality. If I am the taxpayer in charge of the bill, I want to make the decision. Now.
There are too many other things we need that money to be used for here at home. Bring the troops home and stop the bloodletting from our national treasury and from our national treasures, our young people in uniform.
CWO3 Tom Barnes, USCG (Ret.)