James “Jamie” Dean, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) shortly after Thanksgiving, received orders to deploy to Iraq by New Year’s Day.
Jamie panicked, barricaded himself in a remote family farmhouse threatening suicide. His desperate parents called police.
Police fired 80 cannisters of tear gas trying to force Jamie to surrender.
The day after Christmas, on Dec. 26, 2006, a police sniper killed Jamie. He was 29. Another casualty in the long war on terrorism.
Washington’s foreign policy elites, including many conservatives, are aghast that President Trump is bringing U.S. troops home from Syria and Afghanistan.
They are full of esoteric reasons for continuing to fight both losing wars:
* In Syria, 2,000 U.S. troops are supposed to be our pawn on the chessboard of the Middle East that plays balance-of-power politics against the combined forces of Russia, the Assad regime and Iran, while protecting Kurds, and deterring Iran from taking over Iraq and attacking Israel.
* In Afghanistan, 14,000 U.S. troops are fighting the longest war in American history to train Afghan soldiers, contain the Taliban and force a negotiated peace with the Kabul government so Afghanistan does not become a terrorist state neighboring nuclear-armed Pakistan.
While Metternich might agree with these reasons for spilling American blood, realpolitik is cold comfort to parents of U.S. troops sacrificed in the war on terror so far — 10,008 killed, 56,422 wounded and 200,000 cases of PTSD.
To Main Street USA, indifferent Washington elites look like “scarlet Majors” ridiculed by Siegfried Sassoon in his World War I poem “Base Details”:
“If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath
I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Reading the Roll of Honor. ‘Poor young chap,’
I’d say — ‘I used to know his father well;
Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.’
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die — in bed.”
Metternich and another great statesman, Otto von Bismarck — who once famously quipped, “The whole of the Balkans are not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier” — would probably agree with President Trump and Main Street USA that Syria and Afghanistan are not worth the cost.
In Syria, defeating ISIS is accomplished. So Mr. Trump is bringing troops home despite lesser ancillary reasons for staying.
Afghanistan is a losing war. Mr. Trump gave the Pentagon two years to achieve victory, but defeat is on the horizon. “Nation-building” by U.S. infidels in Muslim Afghanistan, where Islam and jihad eclipses democracy, is a failure.
Defense Secretary James Mattis failed to understand the Pentagon cannot continue the war on terrorism and deter or defeat Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. Doing everything, as the Pentagon wants, is mission impossible. Counter-insurgency warfare detracts from U.S. capabilities to deter or win “the big one.”
President Obama was rightly mocked for officially declaring an “end” to the war on terrorism on May 23, 2013.
According to the Department of Defense (DOD), counter-terrorism operations are ongoing in 76 countries at an estimated cost, since President George W. Bush officially declared the war on terrorism on Sept. 20, 2001, of $1.5 trillion. Afghanistan alone costs $50 billion annually.
Since 2001, the United States has killed an estimated 65,800-88,600 terrorists, and some 500,000 to 2 million collateral fatalities, according to dubious estimates by Brown University and Physicians for Social Responsibility. But critics may be right that DOD’s sledgehammer counter-terrorism tactics may be making more terrorists than are killed.
Because of the war on terrorism, U.S. military capabilities are underfunded and U.S. military forces are over-extended worldwide, inviting aggression from potential adversaries. Syria is particularly dangerous, where 2,000 U.S. soldiers are surrounded by Russian, Iranian and Syrian forces — a possible flashpoint for World War III.
Indeed, the bad guys are looking for an opportunity to give the United States a “bloody nose” that might drive us into isolationism, or spark a big war when the U.S. military, due to neglect during the Obama years, is still weak.
For example, China’s Rear Adm. Luo Yuan, deputy director of China’s Academy of Military Sciences, recently opined: “What the United States fears most is taking casualties Sinking one carrier could kill up to 5,000 U.S. servicemen, or 10,000 if two vessels were destroyed.”
James Holmes, a professor at the U.S. Navy War College, in a recent National Interest article warns North Korean submarines might be capable of sinking a U.S. carrier.
CIA and allied intelligence services should be waging the war on terrorism, clandestinely, surgically, with no U.S. fingerprints, not DOD with cruise missiles. But CIA must be unchained. Three-thousand Americans died on 9/11 because President Clinton would not OK assassination of Osama bin Laden.
$50 billion annually saved from Afghanistan will more than pay for a “Fortress America” protected by space-based missile defenses and hardening electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and cyber-attacks. Thus, we will be able to deter, prevail or at least survive the next looming world war.
• Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff of the congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Commission, served on the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.