Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Is this the deal breaker?

I once thought Donald Trump’s denigrating John McCain’s service during the Vietnam War would have ended his political career.

Or the time he ridiculed a Gold Star couple whose son, an Army officer, died in Iraq.

How about when Trump mimicked a severely handicapped New York Times reporter?

The coward survived all those missteps. He got elected president.

Now he reportedly has disparaged men and women who have been injured in combat. He calls them “suckers” and “losers.” He supposedly didn’t attend a ceremony at a storied World War I battlefield because the rainfall would mess up his hair. Trump reportedly stood at the grave of a young Marine who died in Afghanistan and said in the presence of the Marine’s father, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, that there was “nothing in it for him.”

Does any of this signal the end of Donald Trump’s hideous tenure as commander in chief?

Oh, I do hope that is the case.

The commander in chief is supposed to revere the men and women he commands. This guy doesn’t. The commander in chief by definition honors their service. Not this one. The commander in chief traditionally speaks of the immense pride of leading the world’s greatest military. Not this guy.

Donald Trump must lose the upcoming presidential election.

How do our service personnel react to this?

I should ask him directly, but instead I will do so on this forum.

I have a member of my family who’s on active duty in the Army. He has served in combat in Afghanistan. He also is an avid supporter of Donald Trump. He is fond of saying “Trump 2020” when we chat via social media.

How in the world can my family member possibly continue to support a president who reportedly (a) didn’t know about reports that Russians were paying Taliban fighters to kill American military personnel or (b) knew about it but did nothing to stop it?

To me the reports of intelligence that Russians were paying a bounty  on our troops seem credible. We need answers. Now!

Trump parrots Kremlin line on Afghanistan

It’s impossible to believe that Donald Trump has said anything that, by itself, would doom his presidency. He has said so much, so often and with such idiocy that he should have been shown the door long ago.

Get a load, though, of what blurted from his pie hole during a 90-minute press availability in the Cabinet Room. He said the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 because “terrorists” were entering the USSR and that the Soviets were justified in responding as they did in invading the neighboring nation.

It’s been said already by others, but I’ll reiterate it here: The only other place where that fiction has been told has been in the Kremlin, where the Russian government is headquartered. No one else on Earth has ever said out loud and in public that terrorist incursions were the reason that the USSR invaded Afghanistan and fought the Afghans for a decade.

Which begs the question: What in the name of revisionist history is the president doing here? Some have suggested he is speaking the Russian line because he actually believes it, that the Russians have penetrated his skull with propaganda that no one else actually believes. Others suggest that Donald Trump, whose astonishing ignorance takes our breath away, simply doesn’t know what he’s saying, but that he is in love with the sound of his own voice.

The Wall Street Journal, with its right-leaning editorial page, has skewered the president with an editorial today. It said, “We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American president.” Just think: The WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a friend and ally of Trump who also owns the president’s favorite cable TV network, Fox News.

I do not know what prompted Trump’s utterly ridiculous assertion. The best case is that it is the product of blind ignorance. The worst case is that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has something on the president, that Trump is now officially frightened to the point of reciting Russian propaganda regarding one of the signature episodes of the Cold War.

Whatever the case, for the president of the United States to so egregiously mischaracterize one of the world’s darkest moments is frightening on its face.

Donald Trump is unfit to occupy his high and exalted office.

An ‘SNL’ joke makes this young man a star

I didn’t know Dan Crenshaw from the man in the moon … until someone made a tasteless joke at Crenshaw’s expense on “Saturday Night Live.”

Then the young man became all the rage, the talk of the nation.

It turns out he is a newly elected Republican congressman from Houston. He’s also a former Navy SEAL who suffered a grievous injury fighting terrorists in Afghanistan. He lost an eye. The sight in his other eye is flawed. He has trouble keeping his balance and, as the Texas Tribune reports, he “misses” handshakes on occasion.

As the Tribune reported: Weirdly, his election wasn’t the biggest news in Crenshaw’s life last week. That came during the first minutes of Nov. 4 on the “Weekend Update” portion of “Saturday Night Live,” when cast member Pete Davidson, who gave a riff on the midterms, presented a photo of Crenshaw, eye patch on.

“You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit-man in a porno movie,” the comedian joked. “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.”

Rep.-elect Crenshaw, though, is a terrific sport. When cast member Pete Davidson made fun of his injury on “SNL,” many around the nation took offense. “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels invited Crenshaw on the show. Crenshaw at first balked, then he went on and returned the barbs to Davidson.

The congressman-to-be has become a political star as a result.

The Tribune published a lengthy feature about Crenshaw. Read it here.

I find this fellow’s story to be quite compelling and worthy of attention, even without his star turn on “SNL.”

He fought through a difficult Republican primary to be nominated, then knocked off a Democratic incumbent to win a seat in Congress representing his native Houston. He also is part of a congressional freshman class that includes 15 veterans, which I believe gives the next Congress valuable insight into the myriad issues — and problems — that our returning servicemen and women are facing.

I like this fellow’s story. I grieve for his terrible injury, but am proud of the way he handled himself in light of the flurry of controversy that swirled after the “SNL” joke went viral.

I wish him well as he takes on his new job representing his congressional district.

And, welcome home, young man.

This vet got one heck of a surprise

FOUNTAIN, Colo. — I am about to offer a brief illustration of just how far this country has come in its treatment of Vietnam War veterans.

It has come a long way from the bad old days when vets from that conflict were treated with maximum disrespect and, dare I say, dishonor.

We ventured to this city to meet with good friends. They recommended a place they were anxious to try out. It’s called “Sarge’s”; it is owned by a U.S. Army veteran and it caters to vets. Its walls are decked out in military insignia, pictures, knickknacks, this and that.

The owner of the place came to our table to chat us up. I didn’t get his name, so I’ll refer to him only as “Sarge.” I asked him about his career: He retired in the summer of 2016 after 23 years of active duty; he was an infantryman. “Oh, you must have seen combat,” I said. Yes, he answered, reeling off deployments to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then I mentioned that my last duty deployment was with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which formerly was based in Fort Carson, Colo., just up the road from where we ate our dinner; I served with the unit when it was based at Fort Lewis, Wash. I told him I had trained as an aircraft mechanic and then served in Vietnam with an Army aviation unit and then was sent to serve as a flight ops specialist at the I Corps Tactical Zone operations center in Da Nang.

“The Army, in its wisdom, then sent me to the 3rd Cav and let me drive a five-ton cargo truck,” I said. “Hey, it makes perfect sense me,” Sarge said with a laugh.

Then he summoned one of his employees over, whispered something to him and then declared he was reducing our dinner tab by 50 percent. “I take half off for all Vietnam and Korean War vets,” he said.

I … was … stunned. What none of us realized at the moment was that he discounted the tab for all four of us.

“Don’t I have to show you proof that I served in ‘Nam?” I asked. “Oh, no. You just said it without missing a beat,” he said. “That’s good enough for me.”

This likely would not have happened in 1970 when I returned home from my Army service. Please understand that I did not suffer the indignity inflicted on many other of my Vietnam War brothers. I merely watched it unfold in real time as we all sought to start our lives as we returned to “The World.”

I merely wanted to mention how Sarge has exhibited with a simple act of kindness to someone he didn’t know who merely said he had served in a long-ago conflict.

America, you indeed have come a long, long way.

Standing tall with France

santa fe bldg

It’s only a symbol of solidarity, but given its location and the occasional animosity that flares up around these parts toward the people of a certain country, it’s worth a notation here.

The picture is a bit blurry, but it showed up on social media overnight. The 85-year-old Santa Fe Building — which houses several Potter County offices — arguably is one of the more iconic structures in downtown Amarillo. Its top floors have been lit up in the colors of the French flag.

The statement of solidarity with our French allies in the wake of the Paris terrorist massacre is not unlike what’s been done in communities across the United States. The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attacks that killed 129 people and injured hundreds more. It was the worst attack of terror in France since World War II.

We feel their pain, as they have felt ours.

President Obama noted in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks that France is America’s “oldest ally.” The French stood with us as we fought to gain liberation from Great Britain during our American Revolution.

And yet …

Some of us here have ridiculed France, particularly since 9/11, when certain political elements in that country opposed our going to war in Afghanistan in response to al-Qaeda’s brutal attack on this country.

Do you remember “freedom fries”? How about the continual references to France needing the Allies’ military muscle to defeat the Nazi occupiers during World War II? The French became the butt of jokes.

Today, though, we stand with France. Even here, in this part of the United States, where those anti-French feeling ran deeply.

I’ll assume for a moment that Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner made the decision to color the top of the Santa Fe Building to honor France’s struggle to recover from the monstrous act of terror.

Thank you, judge, for showing your true colors.

Sen. Graham ‘ready’ … to take U.S. back into war

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’s “ready” to run for president, and to be president.

He’s also ready, it sounds to me, as if he’s ready to send Americans back to the Middle East, to fight radical Islamic terrorists face to face.

Haven’t we been there, already? Haven’t we lost sufficient numbers of American lives in the fight against Islamic terrorists?

Apparently not, says Graham.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/im-ready-lindsey-graham-officially-enters-2016-race/ar-BBktaAk

The South Carolina Republican jumped into the GOP nomination fight today, vowing to ratchet up our military posture abroad. Interesting, yes? We did that during the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks. We went after al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, as we should have done. Then we decided — wrongly, it turned out — to take the fight into Iraq. We flexed our military might quite nicely in that country, then kept fighting and fighting and fighting as resistance rose up and the Islamic State became a serious force with which we’re still trying to reckon.

Graham’s campaign speech makes it sound as if we’ve rolled over. We have done nothing of the sort.

Someone needs to slip him a note with these words: “We killed bin Laden.”

Other terrorist leaders have been killed. ISIL remains a serious threat, but the United States is striking hard at that outfit as well.

Do we really want to re-enter the ground war in Iraq, or in Yemen, or in Syria? Do we really want to re-engage an enemy face to face? Graham seems to think it’s all right. I disagree with him. The Associated Press reported: “Graham is a prominent Senate voice in seeking a more muscular foreign policy and one who casts the threats facing the United States in particularly dark terms.”

Our foreign policy is muscular enough.

Monsters strike once again

Do you suppose the madmen who opened fire on a military school in Pakistan would say their attack was a “proportionate response” to the deaths of Taliban killers?

If they do, then they’ve just demonstrated for all the world to see the ruthlessness of this enemy.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/pakistani-forces-reclaim-school-after-%e2%80%98horrific%e2%80%99-taliban-attack-kills-at-least-132/ar-BBgRAT9

Gunmen opened fire in a Peshawar, Pakistan school, killing at least 132 people — most of whom were students.

The nine killers themselves were killed by Pakistani military and police after a nine-hour gun battle.

I guess there can be no limit to the hideousness of this cabal of killers. They once ran the government in Afghanistan and they’ve been mounting terrorist attacks there and throughout the region ever since their ouster in 2001 right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The list of ghastly incidents of violence is too numerous to recount here. The latest attack on the military school is just one more example of how we must fight this enemy.

We must keep fighting them with extreme vigor — and prejudice.

 

Questions arise about Bergdahl's release

Questions and concerns have surfaced about the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from his Taliban captors.

They are legitimate and serious questions.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/hagel-discusses-details-of-us-operation-to-exchange-taliban-detainees-for-captive-soldier/2014/06/01/551c21f8-e95f-11e3-a86b-362fd5443d19_story.html

My most pressing concern is this: How is the United States going to ensure that the five high-ranking Taliban officials released from Guantanamo Bay prison do not re-enter the fight against this country?

We gave up these individuals in exchange for Bergdahl’s release after five years in captivity. He reportedly was in failing health and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said his release was expedited to “save his life.”

The Taliban terrorists were turned over to Qatar officials and have been placed on a one-year “travel restriction.” How does that work? U.S. officials reportedly worked out a deal to have Qatari officials sit on these guys for a year. After that? Who knows?

Here is where I hope the CIA and every other U.S. intelligence agency capable of taking part is doing their job. By that I have to hope that we’re keeping eyes on these monsters 24/7, watching every move they make. Do we need to know the particulars? I have no need to acquire such highly classified information, but I do hope our intelligence professionals are up to the task of keeping these guys in their sights at all times.

As to the questions about whether the Obama administration broke the law by negotiating with terrorists and doing it in secret, we have to accept that sometimes we have to do unseemly-looking deeds to accomplish a worthy goal. The administration says it did keep congressional sources informed of what was going on.

As long as we can keep the released Taliban officials on a very short leash and prevent them from turning against our forces, then I’m willing to accept the strategy employed to have one of our own men released from captivity.

Our spooks, however, had better not mess this up.

Good news from Afghanistan?

Might there be a glimmer of hope finally in Afghanistan?

The Afghans have conducted an election to choose their next president. The top two candidates, according to National Public Radio, are pro-Western in their leanings and are not allies of the outgoing — and unpredictable — Afghan President Hamid Karzai; indeed, Karzai’s hand-picked successor is running far behind the top two candidates.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304819004579485482622918584

A runoff appears to be in the offing between opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani.

What’s more, the election produced a stunning 60 percent turnout in the face of attacks from Taliban terrorists who, of course, oppose elections of any stripe.

Can this be a tipping point in the evolution of Afghanistan from a lawless, tribal society into one that is governed under the rule of laws that the rest of the civilized world understands?

Hope should spring eternal.

The United States already has ended its major combat role in Afghanistan after fighting an all-out war there against the Taliban since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. More than a dozen years have passed. Too much American blood has been spilled in what had been thought to be a lost cause.

It’s too early certainly to declare victory in a land with no known history of representative democracy. But with the impending election of either Ghani or Abdullah, the country appears to be headed toward a leadership that will tilt in our direction rather than toward the forces of evil.

It’s now time for the world to begin holding its breath.