Would Somebody Wake Up Our Secretary of Defense?
by James Glaser
July 21, 2009

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates came out with the idea yesterday that the American public will not back a long war in Afghanistan. Somebody has to explain to Secretary Gates that our war in Afghanistan started in October of 2001. In my way of thinking, that makes this war pretty long already. That would make this war in Afghanistan more than twice as long as World War II for the United States.

So, Robert Gates is telling us that we must "gain ground against insurgents in Afghanistan by next summer to avoid a public perception the war is unwinnable." According to Reuters, here is what Gates went on to say:

"After the Iraq (war) experience, nobody is prepared to have a long slog where it is not apparent we are making headway," Gates said in an interview. "The troops are tired. The American people are pretty tired," he said

It is pretty frightening to think that the Secretary of Defense of the United States, the man to whom George Bush and then Barack Obama entrusted the running of the Pentagon, could come up with a statement like that.

We are in our eighth year of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. When we first attacked Afghanistan, that country had no army, no navy, no air force, and the man in charge of the country in 2001 was Mullah Omar, Wikipedia describes Omar:

Mohammed Omar (born c. 1959, often simply called Mullah Omar, is the leader of the Taliban of Afghanistan and was Afghanistan's de facto head of state, and was recognized by three states, from 1996 to 2001, under the official title of Head of the Supreme Council. He held the title Commander of the Faithful from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. He is wanted by U.S. authorities for defending Afghanistan from a NATO invasion. He is believed to be directing the Taliban in their war against occupational forces and Hamid Karzai's Government in Afghanistan from Pakistan.

Well, here we are eight years later, and Mullah Omar is still the head of the Taliban, and they are still killing American troops (4 on Monday and 30 so far in the month of July). Bet you didn't hear that on your national news program. Our Secretary of Defense is worried that the American people are going to lose heart and start thinking we can't win this war if we don't do something quick.

For most Americans, Afghanistan is just something in the background of the nightly news, as it has been for years. Every once in a while we hear of troops dying or one of our planes crashing, but the war just keeps going along. It is like the lesser twin to our war in Iraq. Oh yes, Mullah Omar is still in charge of the Taliban, and in the last couple of years, he and his side have retaken a lot of their country back from our troops.

We are losing this war, and even if the Secretary of Defense is clueless, the American people know it. The American people know we have planes, and tanks, night vision goggles, and predator drones that are controlled by computer screens in air conditioned bunkers far from the combat zone.

The American people also know that the Taliban are fighting us with AK 47 rifles and a lot of guts, just like they fought the Soviets and the British before that.

Somebody should also tell our Secretary of Defense about how we lost the Vietnam War to a group of soldiers who fought with AK 47 rifles and a lot of guts, too.

Post Script:

I am in to process of moving, and every day I take a truck load or two, some time three over to my new home 55 miles away. So, some nights I am just too tired to write. If I miss a column or two, that is the reason. I am almost done though, and soon things will be back to normal.

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