Diana West

Apparently not. To our unflustered leaders, the sacrifices are lamentable but acceptable -- just part of the human price of the privilege of spending $350 million a day to be in Afghanistan in the first place. The main problem is our leaders treat these "incidents" as unfortunate by-products of a chosen nation-building strategy that must be pursued forever; not manifestations of a disastrous counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy that must be junked ASAP. Which reminds of what an ex-Green Beret friend with multiple stints in Afghanistan recently told me was his "winning strategy." He wrote: "Oh, by 'winning' I mean leaving Afghanistan as soon as possible, burning in place or blowing up all our materiel we can't carry with us quickly."

Amen, brother.

But about these COIN-killed Western troops: They attract little attention beside local coverage. If you look around online, you can find videos of the flag-draped processionals, the young people dressed for mourning in a high school gym. This is not an adequate memorial to these irresponsibly lost lives.

If Congress were worth the bother, it would demand change on behalf of these and all of our fallen young Americans from a military in denial, a government in thrall to a policy with more in common with the utterly failed ideas of the Great Society than with national security strategy. I am talking about COIN theory, which holds that if you sink enough money, enough public works projects, enough nation-building, then somehow, some way, these alien cultures bridged by Islamic law and custom will adopt essentially un-Islamic law and custom and -- presto -- become an ally in the war on terror.

Sounds funny now, but isn't that what was supposed to happen? The truth is, no one in power, military and civilian, knows what their point and purpose is anymore. This perpetual madness must stop.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).