By John J. Duncan Jr.
In September of 2017, I gave a speech on the floor of the U.S. House about the war in Afghanistan.
I quoted from a story that had run a few days earlier in the international edition of the New York Times.
That story said “When the American author James a. Michener went to Afghanistan to research his work of historical fiction, ‘Caravans,’ it was 1955 and there were barely any roads in the country yet there were already Americans and Russians there, jockeying for influence.
“Later, the book’s Afghan protagonist would tell an American diplomat that one day both America and Russia would invade Afghanistan and that both would come to regret it.”
It is almost unbelievable to think that Michener wrote those words 66 years ago, long before the U.S. started its more than 20-year war in Afghanistan, our longest war.
In an Associated Press story on July 12, Andrew Brennan, a former Army captain who flew combat missions there, lost one of his closest friends, Bryan Nichols, when Nichols’ helicopter was shot down in 2011, killing 30 Americans.
Brennan spent a week helping recover the bodies and still wears a killed in action bracelet in honor of his late friend.
Brennan said, “What have we ended up with at the end of it, other than trillions spent, 7000+ Americans dead, and more than two broken generations of warriors.”
He believes it was a senseless war, and I do too. In fact, I spoke and voted many times trying to end that war long ago and bring our troops home.
Columnist Pat Buchanan wrote in his column of July 8 that the original mission of the U.S. in Afghanistan was accomplished in May of 2003.
We should have gotten out at that time. If we had, just think how many American lives and trillions of dollars would have been saved.
But it is hard to find a fiscal conservative at the Pentagon and we have far too many officers in today’s military. They are always looking for ways to expand our mission around the world.
In Scot Berg’s great biography on Woodrow Wilson, it says that during World War I, there was one officer for every 30 U.S. soldiers.
President Eisenhower once said we had too many officers when the ratio was nine enlisted for each officer.
It keeps creeping down, however, and the last time I checked, the ratio was only three to one in the Air Force, about 4 ½ to 5 to one in the Army and Navy, but 10 to one in the Marines, by far the smallest of the top four services.
In an interview on the CBS Sunday Morning News of July 4, the former Chief of Staff of the entire military, Admiral Mike Mullen, said he never felt we were winning the war in Afghanistan.
He said they could win in a certain area, district, or province, but when you knitted it altogether, victory just was not achievable.
The report ended by saying that Afghanistan had lived up to its reputation as the “graveyard of empires.”
In addition to the dead, 20,000 were wounded, many maimed for life, and we are leaving behind mega-billions in buildings, vehicles, heavy machinery, and very expensive armor and equipment.
Pat Buchanan wrote: “There never was a vital U.S. interest in Afghanistan worth a war of the cost in blood, treasure and time that we have just fought.”
What a waste. Will we ever learn?