President Obama went to Dover, Del. in the wee hours of the morning to greet the returning bodies of U.S. servicemen killed overseas. He also met privately with the families of the fallen for a reported two hours.
He needed to do that. As commander in chief, he honored the sacrifice of those under his command. As president, he expressed the gratitude of the nation not just to those fallen but to all who risk their lives for the country. And as a human being, he saw and felt first hand the consequences of the decisions he is making. It’s a weight every wartime president must carry.
I continue to search for a convincing argument that Afghanistan can be “won.” I haven’t found it yet, and if someone comes across one, let me know. Even Gen. McCrystal’s assessment was pretty pessimistic if you read it. I’d love to sit McChrystal down and ask him one very private question: If we follow your advice, what do you think the chances that in 10 years, Afghanistan will be a peaceful, self-governing nation that offers no harbor for Islamic terrorism?
Forty percent? Eighty percent? It’s sure as hell not 100 percent.
As an AP story pointed out, the U.S. and its allies already outnumber the Taliban forces by 12-1, yet as McChrystal acknowledges, we’re still losing ground. The inherent corruption in Afghanistan and our status as a profoundly alien presence are obstacles that sheer manpower cannot overcome.
I do see a lot of arguments in effect describing Afghanistan as “a test of our will and toughness.” It is so much more important than that, and justifiying it in those terms is profoundly wrong. We’re not bringing those caskets back to Dover as a way to prove our toughness. At least I hope we’re not.
Here’s an AP video of the ceremony early this morning.