This week's syndicated column:
Even before the carnage inside Kabul airport was sorted and identified, before the squads of sober officers were deployed to inform stateside next of kin, and before the caskets were filled, closed, and draped with flags for the final flight home, this much we knew: Another Afghan Muslim "partner" in uniform -- a veteran Air Force pilot -- had opened fire on NATO trainers in a meeting, killing eight U.S. military personnel and an American contractor.
Question: Will our U.S. representatives -- and those of the deceased -- pay attention to this latest Afghan attack on Americans? If so, will they a) yawn; b) cluck; c) raise hell; d) none of the above?
The fact is, these murders are not "just one of those things" -- the unfortunate outcome of a "disagreement," or even "financial pressures" as mentioned, straight-faced, in early reports. These ritualistic murders of Westerners, like similar assaults before them, are the most shocking manifestations of our foundationally flawed policy of nation-building in the Islamic world. They are some of the flesh-and-blood sacrifices to the make-believe "Democracy Project," whose postmodern-day missionaries believe must be advanced on the backs of the U.S. military according to the quasi-holy doctrine of counterinsurgency (COIN).
It's way past time to call it off. The simplest reason is because it's crazy, and probably literally so in a certifiable sense. We, the people, have empowered elected officials to order our military forces to risk their lives not for our country but for a theory. A theory based on the absurd premise that the Western way is also the "universal" way. A theory whose practitioners must suppress logic, historical knowledge, moral principle and, most basic of all, survival instinct. And that's crazy.
Consider this evidence from the Clarksville (Tenn.) Leaf Chronicle. Last week, the newspaper sent a reporter to witness a bizarre event that tragically defines our age: a Fort Campbell send-off for troops en route to Afghanistan to "partner" with Afghan "allies," one of whom had just killed five U.S. troops, also from Fort Campbell (a separate killing spree). The story's headline is "NCOs offer stern message for war-bound soldiers." That message is, "Don't trust anyone but you still have to partner up."
The crazy thing is, "trust" is the essence of "partnering up," particularly when live ammunition is involved. Which is why this order, this policy, is irrational. Pvt. Buddy McLain knew as much. In late 2010, the 24-year-old expressed misgivings about arming Afghan trainees to his wife; one week later, he and five other U.S. troops (also from Fort Campbell) were dead, murdered by one such "partner" after drinking tea with him. End of story? Nope. Where our leaders are concerned, it was just another chapter.
The Leaf Chronicle reporter tries to explain the inexplicable: "Those twin messages can seem confusing to a 19-year-old soldier, which is why the senior noncommissioned officers will have to train the junior NCOs to deliver both messages effectively and maintain the balance the mission requires."
In other words, the U.S. military will have to make schizophrenia the new normal. And that's really crazy. Ex-Marine John Bernard of the blog Let Them Fight pointed out to me that nowhere else in society does "doing your job require this dual mentality." Bernard, whose son Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010, further noted that such fractured orders are "an indication of just how convoluted ... the entire mission is." After all, he added, Afghan army and police "are from that segment of society that we had already deemed to be the good guys and should have an expectation of peaceful coexistence. We don't." Our soldiers "should not be dealing with this level of uncertainty at this state in the operation, period." If the strategy were correct to begin with, he explained, we would have already defeated the enemy.
What, if anything, will Congress do about this scandal? So far, we see nothing but almost heel-clicking adulation, inexhaustible patience and an open purse for the generals, the policymakers and their crazy strategy. But how many more U.S. troops will die in an airport office or at a tea table "mentoring" a never-never Afghan security force that our exit supposedly depends on before lawmakers notice the whole big, beautiful theory just isn't working? Is it really too much for them to hold a hearing to try to find out why not, who's responsible, and what we should do instead?