Diana West
The Karzai Ultimatum story is entering national consciousness in three parts. (1) U.S.-led airstrike on May 28 kills Afghan women and children in Helmand Province. (2) Afghan President Hamid Karzai delivers ultimatum on U.S. airstrikes -- stop, or else Afghans will revolt against U.S. “occupation.” (3) US-led forces (ISAF) apologize.

A crucial part is missing. I refer to the shooting, also on May 28, that killed a U.S. Marine on patrol in Helmand, triggering the fighting which led to the airstrike that Karzai would take to the microphone on the world stage. Neither Karzai, nor, come to think of it, ISAF has made much noise about this fallen Marine. In ultimatum news stories, he remains anonymous. In the rush to apologize, his sacrifice is overlooked.

But I think I’ve found him. The only American killed in Helmand Province on May 28 was Lance Cpl. Peter Clore. He was 23 years old.

Only six weeks in Afghanistan, Clore and his war dog Duke were leading a patrol to find and clear IEDs somewhere in Zad District. That’s only hundreds of miles from Kabul, but it’s nearly 7,000 miles from Clore’s hometown of New Philadelphia, Ohio (pop. 17,000). Shots rang out and Clore was hit. He died. His fellow Marines pursued the attackers who took refuge in a compound where they continued to fire at Marines. At some point -- details aren't just sketchy, they're unavailable -- the Marines called for an airstrike on the building the militants were in.

This takes us to where the consensus narrative begins with its familiar prompts and conditioned reflexes: women and children killed in a U.S. airstrike; Afghan outrage; American apology. Lost in the diplomatic furor -- along with the life of this young Marine -- is the fact that in calling on Americans not to strike at Taliban-filled houses, Karzai is demanding a free-fire zone for insurgents.

That's fine -- for Karzai and the Afghan forces he ostensibly commands. Let him send Afghans, not Americans, to patrol the IED-laced byways of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Let's see what that Potemkin Police Force and Ghost Army, which a delusional Pentagon and a snoring Congress think they have created with your money, can really do.

Why does the image of Bernie Madoff in uniform come to mind? Because this whole nation-building misadventure in Afghanistan is a mirage, a dream that young Americans in our armed forces are paying to perpetuate with their limbs, their lives -- and that includes their own “hearts and minds” -- in a nightmare many never wake from. Meanwhile, any of our gold still left in Fort Knox spills out onto the Afghan rubble and disappears.


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).