Paul Greenberg

But when the enemy knows to expect them, as when an American outfit has been surrounded and help is bound to be on the way, for we do not abandon our troops, these very special forces are vulnerable. As they were in the Tangi Valley. And may be again as the troops that composed the major part of the American surge in Afghanistan are withdrawn. Without all those boots on the ground, the enemy enjoys a new freedom to attack the remaining forces shouldering more and more of the burden of this war.

There will be those who use this grievous loss, as they use everything else, to argue that now is the time to withdraw from Afghanistan, and maybe the rest of the Middle East and world, too, for it is just too great a burden to chase down terrorists wherever they may swarm. Would it be so bad for this republic, which was never intended to be an empire, to lay down its imperial burden and just come home?

The tenth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, is approaching. Which should be a more than adequate response to those who believe we can safely turn our backs on a world full of dangers. These men didn't.

There are many (doubtless conflicting) lessons to be drawn from this sad news out of Afghanistan. Politicians, armchair generals, and kibitzers in general have not been slow to offer their own pet theories and unsought counsel in the wake of this grievous loss.

But for the moment, surely it isn't too much to ask that all of us just be still. And remember the kind of warriors who have always responded to their country's call without cavil or complaint, hesitation or accusation. And who die with their boots on in accord with, as the citations might say, the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States of America.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.