Hail to the Chief
August 25, 2021
For the first time I can think of, I actually applaud President Joe Biden for comments he has made.
During a speech on Friday, Biden spoke of the realities of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Here is an excerpt from his speech:
"...I do not regret my decision to end America's warfighting in Afghanistan and maintain a laser-focus on our counterterrorism missions there and in other parts of the world. Our mission to degrade the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and kill Osama bin Laden was a success. Our decades-long effort to overcome centuries of history and permanently change and remake Afghanistan was not, and I wrote and believed it never could be. I cannot and I will not ask our troops to fight on endlessly in another - in another country's civil war, taking casualties, suffering life-shattering injuries, leaving families broken by grief and loss."
I am actually dumbfounded. A career politician speaking truths?
Is... is that a flying pig outside my window? Who is that knocking at the door? Oh, it's Satan? He's asking to borrow a heater because Hell has frozen over?
Until now, I have lived by the philosophy as follows: I assume government will always do what I don't want it to do, and therefore am never disappointed. Now, I am actually pleasantly surprised.
Biden, borrowing from President Harry Truman, has taken responsibility.
"I am President of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me," Biden said.
Biden rightly noted the initial mission of the United States, to seek out and destroy al Qaeda, has been accomplished and there is nothing further to be gained by staying in country.
As noted in my column last week, it is none of our concern should another country choose democracy or some other form of government. That is the freedom of choice, an inalienable divine right for all of humanity in whatever homeland they reside.
Biden said much the same.
"We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on September 11th, 2001, and make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that. We severely degraded al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We never gave up the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and we got him. That was a decade ago. Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy."
Biden also touted American ability to identify, seek out and destroy future threats akin to al Qaeda.
There is no need for massive combat missions spanning decades. Those were the tactics from wars in the 20th Century. With modern tech, surgical strikes should be the general order of the day. Obliterate the threat while limiting the collateral damage. Get in. Get it done. Get out. And fast.
Still, I keep a wary eye on the future. After communism and then terrorism, what or whom will the new boogeyman be? There is always going to be a boogeyman. Can't have the populous living without fear. (RIP, President Franklin Roosevelt).
There is little doubt the "Pivot to Asia" by our Armed Forces over the past several years is a preamble to conflicts of the future. Boogeyman now are China and ole reliable Russia.
Wars with these nations would be at a catastrophic level so severe World War II would pale in comparison.
For now, I celebrate the peace, however short it may last. I celebrate the fact very few more of our men and women in uniform will be sent overseas to fight in someone else's civil war.
Perhaps now the United States has learned its lesson that policing the world is not our responsibility. It only took the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq to figure that out.
But, time seems to repeat itself. I sincerely hope we do not find ourselves in yet another quagmire in someone else's backyard any time soon, or ever again.
Yet, if we do not study and learn from our mistakes, such instances are most likely inevitable.