Diana West

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?


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).

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