"The United States of America does not quit, once it starts on something. We will prevail ..." said their Commander-in-Chief to 2500 troops at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, during a "surprise" visit this week. His words must also have come as a surprise to any students of History in Obama's audience.
"But what about Vietnam, Mr. President?" one might have shouted. No, these were loyal troops, "fighting for our freedoms," as their mothers would have insisted halfway around the world. The President and former scholar/teacher (no less) might have have responded, at apparently an advanced stage of his denialism: "There's a huge difference ... and I'll think of it in a minute--but, soldier, you're comparing the two?! Look here, we sent more 50,000 of you people to their deaths in Southeast Asia; we haven't hit 1000 here in Afghanistan, and not quite 5000 for the whole Middle East megilla. Apples and oranges. Long way to go yet, men."
"I'm a woman, Sir. But let me follow up with: What then, or whom, are we fighting for?" This is how Obama put it, un-asked, to the troops (not a made-up quote):
Your services are absolutely necessary, absolutely essential to America's safety and security ... Those folks back home are relying on you. We can't forget why we're here ... We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al-Qaida and its extremist allies. (AP story here)Some in the audience might well have been frozen in "The Two-thousand Yard Stare" (Tom Lea's WWII painting used once before in DM #185 "The Middle-East Quagmire"), if it weren't for the generic hoopla erupting after the President's gung-ho pep-talk.
No one to point out for the Head Honcho that these "extremist allies" are Afghans too--Talibans only militarily (in the mujaheddin tradition) with their own cadre of foreigners helping out minimally (al-Quida) to kick out those other foreigners--but otherwise they are non-Arab Pashtuns ethnically, Sunni Muslims religiously, and (like us, ironically) Indo-Europeans linguistically, just as is current President Hamid Karzai and his government. They were all true-blue Talibans only a few years ago. When we were Talibans too! Everybody is fighting everybody else, including themselves. These subtleties may have been lost on Obama's audience. Best to stick with "Kill al-Qaida!" (more)