Tag Archives: Afghan War

‘Endless war’ sees an end

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

An astonishing thought occurred to me today as I listened to President Biden’s announcement that he is ordering our troops home from Afghanistan.

Are you sitting down for this? Joe Biden is invoking a policy that mirrors one espoused by Donald John Trump!

Recall that Trump bellowed during the 2020 campaign, and before, about he wanted to cease getting this country involved in “endless wars.” Well, his successor has followed that course. President Biden today announced our final contingent of troops will be out of Afghanistan no later than Sept. 11.

So, this thought also occurs to me: Will there be a statement endorsing this policy decision announced by Joe Biden coming from his immediate predecessor?

I know. You’re laughing out loud! In a way, I am snickering under my breath as I type these words. Hell, how can Trump endorse anything that President Biden does without ever even acknowledging that he was elected to the nation’s highest office?

We might just have seen the weirdest joining of strange political bedfellows in memory.

Declaring victory?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President George W. Bush responded with strength and resolve nearly 20 years ago when terrorists declared war on this country.

He ordered the military into Afghanistan  to overthrow the government that had given the monsters safe haven. The war against international terror had begun.

I said at the time that I wondered how in the world we could declare victory. How could we ever know when we have defeated this enemy? I likened it a bit to the semi-cavalier approach espoused by the late, great Republican U.S. Sen. George Aiken of Vermont who said during the Vietnam War that we should “just declare victory and go home.”

President Biden has in a sense declared victory against the terrorists. He is bringing home the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan no later than Sept. 11, the 20th year since the beginning of the longest war in U.S. history.

We didn’t start this conflict, but today Biden declared that we are about to finish this particular phase of it.

My fervent hope is that we remain on the highest alert possible for any future evil intent. I heard the president say that it is time for us to look forward, that the terrorist movement has “metastasized” and moved into many other areas of the world. It is time, he said, for us to focus our efforts beyond the Afghan battlefield.

Joe Biden is not wild-eyed. He does not strike me as being prone to making decisions based on hunches and gut feelings. The president is a studied creature of the government he now leads.

I do hope with all that I can muster that he can remove the relative handful of troops from the field of battle while ensuring that we can remain focused sharply on danger when it presents itself. That we can take a proactive posture against threats to our nation.

We do possess the nation’s strongest military apparatus. A first-rate intelligence service complements that force with seasoned and dedicated professionals. We also have a commander in chief who listens and acts on the advice and counsel he receives from the pros who are trained to deliver it.

Can we truly declare victory on the Afghan killing fields? I hope that is the case.

Biden: Bring troops home

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It is with guarded optimism — with the emphasis on “guarded” — that I welcome the pending end of our nation’s longest war as announced today by President Biden.

The president today declared his intention to have all U.S. combat troops removed from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 20 years after what has been called simply “9/11.”

Terrorists hijacked jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on that horrific day. A fourth jetliner became the scene of a fight between heroic passengers and terrorists and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. We went to war that day.

Joe Biden today, in effect, declared a form of “victory” in our fight against international terrorism. He wants to end our combat involvement in Afghanistan, where the Taliban gave safe harbor to al-Qaeda terrorists, enabling them to plot and execute the ghastly terrorist attack that drew us into the longest conflict in our nation’s history.

At roughly the halfway point in that struggle, our special forces killed the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

To be sure, the terror threat cannot possibly be extinguished ever. It was there all along, prior to 9/11 and afterward. Indeed, President Biden today acknowledged that threat and vowed to deploy all available counter- and anti-terrorist strategies to protect us against further attacks.

I hope with all my heart that he succeeds in this effort. I no longer want to send our young men and women into battle. That doesn’t mean, though, that we ever let our guard down against threats such as what befell us on 9/11.

I remain dubious that the Taliban can be trusted as a negotiating partner. Thus, it is imperative that we keep our military on the highest level of preparedness moving past the date set for our withdrawal from the Afghan battlefield.

Joe Biden reminded us that four U.S. presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Biden — all have dealt with this conflict. President Biden vowed today he wouldn’t hand it to a fifth commander in chief.

I want to applaud this decision. However, I will hold off on that hand-clapping when we can know for certain that we have ended forever the threats of violence that can come at a moment’s notice.

Tension with Russia, China mount? Imagine that

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Who would have thought that two nations competing with the United States of America are getting their dander up over the words coming from the new U.S. president?

Too bad … for them.

President Biden has acknowledged that Russian despot Vladimir Putin is a killer, prompting the Russians to call their U.S. ambassador back to the Kremlin. Biden also is working with our allies to get China to change the way it treats dissidents in its country, prompting the People’s Republic to stiffen its back as well.

I want there to be peaceful relations with both countries. I also want the United States to act like the powerhouse nation it is, not roll over and concede matters to Russia and China, which happened all too often during the Trump administration.

Biden has pledged to make Russia pay for interfering in our elections and for its assorted other misdeeds, such as reportedly paying bounties for Americans killed on the Afghanistan battlefield. Donald Trump never even brought that subject up with Putin, as Trump himself has admitted. That must change and by all accounts, it has done so.

Russia, China tensions rise with White House  | TheHill

As for China, I also want President Biden to talk openly about human rights abuses, which the PRC is infamous for committing against its citizens. If the leaders in Beijing don’t like it, well … that’s just too damn bad.

Russians might pull their envoy to the U.S.? | High Plains Blogger

The United States has sufficient alliances around the world with nations that are able to back us up and are capable enough to withstand challenges from Russia and China.

I welcome the tougher talk coming from President Biden. After all, we are big dog on the block.

Blowhard treads where he shouldn’t go

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Tucker Carlson is a right-wing gasbag who quite often bloviates on matters of which he knows nothing.

I’m a bit late entering this kerfuffle, but Carlson has waded into a thicket that has drawn deserved scorn from military veterans.

The Fox News blowhard had the stones to say the other day that women who serve in the military downgrade the quality of the nation’s fighting force. He had the very bad taste to suggest that pregnant women in particular are a detriment to this nation’s readiness.

Whoa! Dude, you stepped in it.

You see, Carlson never has served a single nanosecond in the nation’s military. Thus, he has no actual knowledge of the military culture, let alone the value that all our men and women bring to the defense of the nation.

Career military officers and non-commissioned officers alike have slammed Carlson for his remarks. I want to join them in that rebuke.

I need to stipulate that I served at a time — from 1968 to 1970 — before women became integrated fully into all the military occupational specialties that the Army offers. However, I do retain some familiarity with the culture that drives the military. I have no doubt as to the readiness of our nation’s armed forces, which are the most formidable on Planet Earth; and, yes, the women who serve contribute to our nation’s readiness.

And I speak with personal knowledge that a dear member of my family, a woman who served with valor and honor in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, is every bit as capable as any man with whom she served in the United States Army.

Tucker Carlson would do well to examine his own qualifications before he pontificates on matters with which he has no experience.

Why the silence, indeed?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I found this letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News today that I want to share on this blog.

Five times I have written my congressman, Van Taylor, about his silence on reports of Russian bounties, the president’s alleged comments about prisoners of war, those killed in actions and wounded veterans. He has not responded directly. A staffer called after my letter on bounties but all he did was list the bills Taylor supported.

Taylor touts his service as a Marine. Why is he silent on the statements from Trump, actual and alleged, that denigrate military people? Has he forgotten why he served and those with whom he served?

Michael Bulkeley, Richardson

***

Rep. Taylor is my congressman, too. He is a first-term Republican whom I have met and discussed some local issues. He seems like an earnest young man.

However … I want to echo Mr. Bulkeley’s letter to the DMN. Taylor, though, is far from alone in the GOP silence on reports that Russian goons have paid Taliban terrorists bounties for Americans they have killed on Afghanistan battlefields.

We are witnessing a shameful and shocking fealty to a president who has demonstrated a horrifying disrespect for those who make the kinds of sacrifice that he infamously sought to avoid during the Vietnam War. Van Taylor, given his combat experience as a Marine in Afghanistan, ought to be yelling the most loudly in challenging Trump’s silence on the Russian campaign against our fighting forces.

He isn’t. Nor are his GOP colleagues in both chambers of Congress.

Think about this for a moment. Traditional Republican politicians would be aghast to hear such things about this longstanding hostile foreign power. Donald Trump has acknowledged already that he has declined to bring it up with Vladimir Putin during several phone calls he has had with the Russian president. What the hell?

The GOP congressional caucus also has sat in stone-cold silence over The Atlantic story in which Trump reportedly called service personnel “suckers” and “losers” if they are injured or killed in combat. Indeed, has Rep. Taylor called Donald Trump out for the remarks attributed to him in The Atlantic? I am waiting patiently.

What we have here, I daresay, is a Republican political caucus that is too beholden to an individual. It is a disgraceful example of blind and muted loyalty to a president who demands it of others but who refuses to return that loyalty to those who defend our nation.

Biden needs to be held to his own campaign pledges

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Joseph R. Biden Jr. is making his share of campaign promises as he seeks to unseat Donald J. Trump Sr. from the presidency.

I am extremely cautious in my hope that he’ll be able to fulfill them. I man, Trump does have a way of pulling rabbits out of his hat … if not his a**. He could do so again down the stretch toward Election Day.

Biden is making some promises that I want to see him keep. For example:

He vows to improve the Affordable Care Act, not scrap it; he vows to rescind Trump executive orders removing us from the Paris Climate Accords and the Iranian nuclear arms deal; Biden promises to work closely with our worldwide allies and cease scolding them; he pledges to hold Russia accountable for the attacks it has launched on our political system and to force answers on the issue of paying bounties for the combat deaths of American service personnel; he vows an energy policy that stresses “clean” sources of energy.

Biden wants to restore our nation’s “soul.” I’m all in. Our soul has been co-opted by the fraud who occupies the Oval Office. Biden vows to lead the entire nation, not just the base that is most loyal to him … which is a promise we never have heard from Donald Trump.

Once the dust settles and Biden — or so I am hoping — is elected the nation’s 46th president, I am going to insist that the new guy keep faith with the myriad pledges he has made.

I am acutely aware that I won’t be alone in that effort. Good. The more of us the better … for the nation.

What happened to bounty outrage?

It’s been clear to me for many years that yesterday’s outrage too often becomes today’s afterthought.

Such as it is with the story that got the media’s attention regarding reports that Russian intelligence officials had placed bounties on the heads of American soldiers fighting Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan.

Yep, we were filled with rage over the notion that Vladimir Putin’s goons were paying money for every soldier the Taliban killed. What’s more, we became even more outraged at Donald John Trump’s lack of outward anger at the reports.

Instead, Trump attacked the media outlets that were reporting this stunning news. He called it “fake.” He became angry at whoever it was who leaked the information to the Associated Press, to the New York Times and to CNN. His anger at the Russians? Silence, man!

I happen to be mad as hell — still! — at Donald Trump over this story. Sure, there are plenty of things Trump has done to incur my wrath: the insults, the hideous pandemic response, the incessant lying.

The idea, though, that the president of the United States would ignore briefing material that had landed on his desk that told him of bounties being paid to Taliban fighters who kill Americans is the utmost betrayal of the oath he took to become commander in chief.

However, the outrage that we heard from all across the country seems to have subsided. Granted, it has been overtaken by another huge event, one that has worsened on Donald Trump’s watch as president of the United States.

The coronavirus pandemic demands our national attention. So do the reports of bounties paid by a hostile power to our battlefield enemies who kill the men and women our president sends into harm’s way.

We cannot let up in our demand for accountability at what many of us consider a hideous dereliction of duty by a man who vowed to protect the men and women who serve under his command.

Hoping for an actual breakthrough with Taliban

(Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) 

Oh, my … I do hope for an actual peace treaty with the Taliban.

Such an agreement could end the longest war in U.S. history, the one that began in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attack on this country.

Donald Trump ventured to Afghanistan for Thanksgiving, broke bread with the troops and then announced to the world that peace talks with the Taliban had resumed. Remember, though, that he broke these talks off after an attack by Taliban fighters that killed an American serviceman.

What was so appalling at that moment was that Trump was going to bring the Taliban to Camp David while the nation was commemorating the 9/11 attack. Bad call, Mr. President.

So, now the talks are back on, as the president has said.

I want the war to end. I grew weary long ago of hearing of our men and women dying in combat. I am going to hope for the best here.

One word of caution: We are negotiating with a cunning, hideous, gruesome bunch of monsters. The Taliban are among the worst of the worst that humankind can produce. I worry that they cannot be trusted as far we can throw any of them.

If these talks produce an actual agreement and if it means an end to the nation’s longest war, then count me in.

Let us be wary, though, of the monstrous cabal with whom we are dealing.

Military service becoming a 2020 issue in POTUS campaign?

Here’s a bet I’m willing to make: If Joe Biden becomes the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee, he will not discuss the bone spurs that kept Donald Trump out of military service during the Vietnam War.

Why? It turns out the former vice president has a potentially dubious medical deferment issue of his own. It appears that childhood asthma kept the ex-VP from being drafted into the military during the war. He had a 1-Y deferment, which disqualified him from the draft.

Now, is it more real, more legitimate than the bone spurs that Trump claimed to have while he was getting those multiple deferments back in the old days? I don’t know.

Veterans across the country, though, are looking at the field of Democrats running for their party’s nomination. Of the whole lot of them, we have three vets seeking the presidency: Pete Buttigieg, a Navy reserve officer who served in Afghanistan, Tulsi Gabbard, who served with the Hawaii Army National Guard in Afghanistan as well as in Kuwait and Seth Moulton, a Marine who also saw service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To be honest, this veteran — as in me — hasn’t made military service a determining factor in deciding for whom to vote for president. Heck, I voted for a draft-dodger twice, in 1992 and 1996. Yes, Bill Clinton’s clumsy explanation about not remembering getting a draft notice didn’t go down well with me, nor with other veterans. I feel confident in disclosing that those who did get a draft notice never “forget” that moment.

However, it didn’t deter me from voting for him for president.

Trump’s deferments do seem phony. He also continues to blather about hypotheticals involving that time. He said recently would have been “honored” to serve. Hmm. And this individual who lies about everything at every opportunity no matter its significance expects me to believe that?

I’ll just stand by my wager that Joe Biden damn sure should steer far away from this military service matter if he intends (a) to be nominated by Democrats and (b) then defeat Donald Trump.

The field is full of issues to raise against the president that have nothing to do with bone spurs, the Vietnam War and medical deferments.