“The State Department could not immediately be reached for comment. Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday (August 12) that the departure of Americans from the embassy was “not an evacuation,” but rather “a reduction in the size of our civilian footprint.”
Susannah George and Bryan Pietsch reporting in the Washington Post 8/15/21
Ned, tell that to the families of the three Afghan souls who fell from the sky as the US military cargo plane rose from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul with US evacuees on board. Tell it to the Afghans we all saw clinging to the side of the plane or the hundreds of Afghans running alongside as it prepared for takeoff.
The scenes from this war-torn and war-weary country are heartbreaking; as the President called it, “gut-wrenching”.
It is painful to watch the desperation of those people, especially the women and children, who face yet another period of brutal Taliban rule.
You can’t help but feel angry and humiliated. The US is engaged in surrender once again, acknowledging the failure and probably futility of yet another nation-building escapade in a country where the religious extremes allow no separation of church and state, none of the freedoms women and children enjoy in democracy, and none of the safeguards against government oppression. It is what has been described as “a graveyard of empires.” Continue reading →
It is an expression that rolls off the tongue. Thanking someone in uniform as they trek through an airport or walk down a sidewalk has become commonplace.
The expression can take many different forms, from a simple ‘thanks’ and maybe a handshake to a fireworks popping flyover, flag-waving spectacle at a professional football game.
It is certainly most often a gesture made in hopes of lifting the spirit of a service member, a tiny step forward to express appreciation for what a soldier has done for the country, whatever that might be, from suffering the horrors of warfare to shuffling papers at the Pentagon.
I subscribe to the general theory that a President, Republican or Democrat, should be able to have the people running his Departments, Commissions, and Agencies that he wants.
Unless there is some overriding disqualifying reason to reject him or her, the Senate should abide by the terms of Article II, Section 2 that says the President, “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Officers of the United States.”
The nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense is an excellent case in point.
I may not agree with Hagel on the 3 I’s – Iran, Iraq, and Israel – but we don’t generally allow Secretaries of Defense to make foreign policy. Nor, for that matter, do Secretaries of State make foreign policy. Continue reading →
I am desperately searching for something to write about that doesn’t include the words “fiscal cliff.”
Maybe we’ll just cruise around the net and see what catches our attention.
Here’s one. Remember that unbelievable photo of the 13-year-old Afghan girl who was on the cover of National Geographic in 1985? It was taken by Steve McCurry. If you’re old enough, you probably remember it. If you’re not, it’s worth looking at.
The National Geographic folks recently auctioned off much of its photo library and that particular picture sold for $178,900. Continue reading →
Here’s what’s likely to happen in Egypt : It will evolve into a Turkish-like government with the civil side adopting a pro-Islamic stance, while the military makes certain the place doesn’t turn into Afghanistan under the Taliban.
The administration’s Afghanistan war policy seems to be settling into a dismal combination of confusion and cynicism. Before the November elections, the administration was adamant that the troops would start coming home by July 2011. That, it is presumed, was to keep the president’s liberals calm.
With the end of combat in Operation Enduring Freedom presidentially certified, all eyes rivet toward Afghanistan. This is the fight President Obama, when campaigning for office, called our “war of necessity.” This is the theater of conflict where Obama, when debating Sen. McCain barely two years ago, promised us victory ending with the killing or capture of Osama bin Laden. Ironically, Afghanistan may also be the only war in American history with a presidential expiration date.
The flash from the explosion–and implosion–of General Stanley McChrystal has faded and his story is already old news. Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson and Rod Blagojevich are back in the headlines.
That’s too bad. If there is any good to come of the McChrystal tragedy, if we as a society are to learn from the experience, then we need to sift through the rubble again and see if we can’t find out more about the right and the wrong, who did what to whom, why it happened and how, and what has changed or will change as a result. It’s important.
General McChrystal, as you will recall, was the U.S. commander in Afghanistan brought down by a story in Rolling Stone Magazine. McChrystal and his aides were quoted as speaking derogatorily and crudely of the civilian chain of command from Washington to Kabul.
The story caused serious direct and collateral damage. The coverage for a brief time was thorough, but there is a lot more for serious journalists to cover.
Last summer the President spent several months publicly anguishing over what he would or wouldn’t do in Afghanistan. Finally, he agreed to ramp up troop levels, but warned that he intended to start getting American troops out in 18 months. After myself anguishing in several columns over the President’s anguishing, I concluded in November 2009:
“If the Taliban and al-Qaida retake Afghanistan, the world (and America) will have hell to pay for the consequences. But this president and this White House do not have it in them to lead our troops to victory in Afghanistan. So they shouldn’t try. The price will be high for whatever foreign policy failures we will endure in the next three years. Let’s not add to that price the pointless murder of our finest young troops in a war their leader does not believe in. Bring them home. We’ll need them later.”