Reading the news lately I got a bit nostalgic for 1969 – it seemed that surely I have been transported back in time. It was a bit more than a year after Tet (does anyone remember what “Tet” was??) and I had just received orders for Vietnam. I was on a small island off the west coast of Taiwan and had volunteered for Vietnam a few months earlier. My orders were my Christmas present for my mother. She was devastated, I was elated and excited. I’m not sure she ever understood my decision or forgave me for her year of fear and worry.
However, unbeknownst to me, at home the tide had turned against the Vietnam War. I was to become a “baby killer”, a destroyer of villages and the hopes of the Vietnamese. Who knew? By the time I returned to “the world” in April of 1971 our nation had begun to abandon the victory of Tet, decrease our troop strength to the point that previously secured areas quickly became more dangerous and funding for our Vietnamese allies began to dry up in our Congress. Four short years later, as the North Vietnamese abandoned the Paris Peace Accords and launched full scale invasion, our Congress pulled all funding – assuring the death of 3 million innocents and the subjugation of the Vietnamese people that continues to this day. I am still ashamed of America’s choice.
Which brings me to todays’ headlines and our current situation in Afghanistan. The current headline in favor sounds something like “Obama continues to dither”. Buried beneath the defense of his actions resides a simple truth – he is totally incapable of making a decision. That was clear prior to his election by a simple review of this state and federal voting record. His single most favorite vote was “present”. A year after election he has yet to find his footing. As a retired officer with 21 years of service, perhaps I could offer a few ideas.
Have a clear-eyed mission.
Muster all necessary resources – money, equipment and soldiers.
Accept nothing but victory.
President Obama is either unwilling or unable to do these three things. Our path forward in Afghanistan is then clear – surrender and leave – quickly! As I type these words, we as a community, have one of our Troop 47 Eagle Scouts doing convoy duty in Baghdad. Two others are attending BOLC (one awaiting Ranger school and the other preparing for deployment in the Spring) and yet another in ROTC at U of I. Not to mention the other community members, family and friends we have all seen pack their rucksacks and get on the bus. They deserve a clear mission, total support and the opportunity for victory. They are not getting this from this administration. To me, that means it’s time for them to come home – quickly.
There will be consequences to this withdrawal of course.
The Taliban will be resurgent and will surely retake the country. For those who do not remember their rampage against civil society and the women of the country, a search of YouTube still displays their public executions, beheadings and beatings of women and girls. Ah, the return to the good old days.
The training camps will return as well, allowing ample space for planning the next attack on the U.S. – which will follow our exit as surely as it did when we ran with our tail between our legs from Somalia after President Clinton sacrificed the 18 Rangers made famous by “Blackhawk Down”.
Finally, our abandoning the fight will strengthen our enemies, embolden their attacks and virtually ensure a new and devastating attack on our homeland.
On the plus side, our troops will be safe within our borders and they will have some time to refit and heal before the next attack.
By the time I returned to the U.S. soldiers that were killed in Vietnam were called “wasted”. President Obama does not have the courage, heart or willingness to commit to victory in Afghanistan, it’s time to come home – NOW – to insure not a single soldier’s life is “wasted”!