Reagan, Obama and Afghanistan
Let’s cut through the crap. There is only one war fighting strategy worthy of America. It is summed up by Reagan, “Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.” It is ideas like this, simply expressed that will make Reagan’s presidency a touchstone for the next century.
These ideas are not really new. They are simple and, frankly, boring. They hold no attraction to those who regard as profound the clutter of deconstruction that is oh so vogue on our college campuses these days. Usually, by some trendy Marxist professor spewing pseudo-pithy remarks with intent to look cool enough to bed some dewy-eyed coed.
Moreover, such ideas are based in reality right from the start of our Republic. Benjamin Franklin didn’t just negotiate a cease fire with the British to end our war for independence. He negotiated a country who’s western boundary would stretch to the Mississippi river. Say what you want about Polk and Manifest Destiny, but he negotiated a peace with Mexico that expanded our country’s size by one-third. And, note, no one seems to refer to the city of Houston (or Brownville) as sitting on the occupied north bank of the Rio Grand.
The Civil War ended on Lincoln’s terms; a united United States and no slavery. The initials of General U. S. Grant were said to stand for unconditional surrender.
And, to the extent that World War II cleaved to the dictum of unconditional surrender as the U.S. saw it, it was a success. Where it didn’t, well, we got the Iron Curtain.
The fundamental is that, as Commander-in-Chief, you have a moral obligation to the troops you command that stands out from and above all other obligations. It is an awesome power to have people such as our soldiers who will serve at the pleasure of the president; even if that pleasure means charging into the jaws of death. It is also a profound moral obligation that if you are going to ask such sacrifice, you owe it to those soldiers that their lives will be place at risk for only one goal. “We win, they lose.”
To the extent that Cold War strategy was mired in the policy of ‘containment,’ it was immoral since it more than tacitly endorsed the status quo of the mass enslavement of people in the bonds of that vicious ideology of communism. This was the ultimate failing of our conflicts in Korea and Vietnam; moral failings that would bring down the presidencies of Truman and Johnson. It had nothing to do with the performance of our armed forces; for our soldiers, sailors and airmen performed admirably. Nor, it is not to say that the specific strategy or tactics specific to the execution of either war was suspect. It was in the context that our leadership at the time, by not thinking beyond containment, ultimately mired their efforts (and the expenditure of American blood and treasure) in an immoral conundrum.
It was only when Reagan defined the Cold War in the clarity of victory did our efforts fall into a clear set of morally unambiguous constructs. It was Reagan who would say this is evil and it will not stand. And, the Soviet Empire would come crashing down in 1989; a mere eight years after Reagan’s inauguration. “We win, they lose.”
Obama will fail in Afghanistan for this very lack of moral purpose. He, as noted by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews went to the “enemy camp” of West Point. And, Matthews put into words what, I think, Obama really believes. He, Obama, the ultimate Philosopher King, approaches the presidency and his duties as commander-in-chief as distractions beneath him. His duties as President are beneath the man who is really the Prime Minister of the world; except when bowing and scraping before the king of Saudi Arabia and the emperor of Japan.
Obama will fail because he cannot bring himself to say the word victory. He cannot fathom Americans winning in a contest of arms. Because, no, our soldiers will not fail us. Like in Korea, like in Vietnam, our soldiers will win on the ground. They will put forth all manner of sacrifice. They will bleed and die to bring victory. But, their sacrifice will be for naught because Obama does not understand the concept “we win, they lose.”
The reason for failure is that Obama has more important things on his mind than his soldiers; ‘bitter’ yokels from red-state America at that. He has to show that American Exceptionalism is dead. And, he has to do only what is necessary to shore up a Chicago political machine recently transplanted to Washington. Obama, with his nuanced ivy league sophistication cannot comprehend the simple truth and obligation to his troops; “we win, they lose.”