By Douglas Kohn
(Publisher's note: This is the second part in a two part series. The first part can be found below.)
In 2001, after September 11th, America began special forces and air operations to support an offensive by the Northern Alliance to remove the Taliban from power. Intervention in Afghanistan was nothing short of a matter of national honor. Notice, we sent in very few ground troops in the beginning. The Taliban was removed from power faster than any regime by an outside force in history. The people of Afghanistan, no matter what the press may tell you, greeted us as liberators. Every poll showed overwhelming support for the United States intervention and for the removal of the Taliban. America had successfully defended her honor after such a disgraceful and cowardly attack. America then failed to win the peace.
We set up a democratic government led by an inept technocrat named Hamid Karzai, we underfunded the Afghan army and recruited our allies to help with the occupation. Our erstwhile allies, NATO, had for the first time in its history invoked Article 5 of NATO’s charter, stating that an attack on one nation in the alliance was an attack on all. However, our ungrateful and disloyal allies, with few exceptions, refused to give their soldiers in Afghanistan rules of engagement allowing them to actually fight. They were only allowed to engage in nation building operations and defensive operations. The offensive operations in Helmand Province and across the border in Pakistan were undertaken by the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Poland, Denmark and Turkey, the only countries who had given their troops permission to engage in combat. I find this disgusting and came to the realization that even in a difficult moment, America mostly has fair weather friends.
After the American invasion of Iraq, that country became a massive strategic distraction for America. Troops, money and resources were diverted to Iraq to try to pacify it. I had, at first, greatly supported the United States invasion of Iraq. I did not support the surge. I did not think it would work and that our soldiers would simply be eaten alive. I was completely and totally mistaken in this position. Under the brilliant leadership of General David Petraeus, America, for the most part, prevailed in Iraq and is now withdrawing responsibly. The optimism must be cautious however, as there are many counterproductive forces in Iraq.
During this time, the situation in Afghanistan greatly deteriorated. American, Allied and Afghan casualties were piling up and lawlessness was everywhere. General Petraeus, after his successful handling of Iraq, is now in charge of Afghanistan.
This is the right thing to do. America, for the sake of national honor, must at the very least, look like we have not lost in Afghanistan. If there is a general anywhere or from anytime in history who may be able to turn the country around, it is David Petraeus. But the situation must be held in perspective. Democracy be damned if need be in Afghanistan. We face a clear and present danger from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, three areas that are closely linked. I agree with President Obama on the necessity of at least having a stalemate in Afghanistan.
But let us look at the great hypocrisy here. Obama, the peace candidate, on the very same day of signing the stimulus into law, ordered the troop increase. Does any Liberal out there remember Vietnam? Please someone show me a Liberal who knows or understands history. I have never met one. Not a single Liberal I know understands history.
Let us recall Lyndon Johnson and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Upon being elected, Johnson had three major policy objectives. The first was the extension of civil rights to minorities in the southern United States. The second was the expansion of economic opportunity and the creation of a welfare state. The third was to contain Communism and limit the influence and power of the Soviet Union.
When a magician performs a trick, they generally use optical illusion and distraction. A magician will wave his hand to get the attention of the audience and then do something behind a curtain with his other hand resulting in a ‘magic’ trick. Lyndon Johnson, in May 1964, announced the Great Society, an economic program that has had very mixed results. That is a matter for another post, not this discussion. While making a huge deal about how the Great Society would save our country and bring justice and opportunity for all, Johnson, three months later, made the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, announcing a massive escalation of the Vietnam War. Notice the illusion and distraction here. Johnson, while signing an economic bill of near unprecedented proportions, took a back door to announcing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and committed America to an extended war.
Now think of today. On the VERY SAME DAY Obama announced the economic stimulus bill, he announced the drastic escalation of the war in Afghanistan. The stimulus, the corrupt pork laden bill that is going to ‘save us from economic collapse.’ Spend with one hand, escalate with the other. Right out of the LBJ playbook. There is no clearer historical parallel I can think of. But where is the left? Why are they not screaming about this? If anyone bothered to read a whole newspaper, they would know that the Afghanistan story was at the very back end of every newspaper in the country while the stimulus bill was on the front page. The reason is that they do not know history. Obama is their messiah. He can do no wrong. Afghanistan is now Obama’s war, if he breaks it he owns it. But according to the leftists who denounced Bush as a war monger, this one gets a free pass because it is a Democrat’s war. Because it is Obama’s war now. Where are the people whose parents were hippy flower children that screamed “Hey hey, LBJ, how many kids ya kill today?!” They are everywhere and they are nowhere.
In short, the forces of history are colliding on America in a way that has not been known in quite a while. It remains to be seen if we still have the will to weather them.