FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The forgotten war
On Wednesday, three of what the Wall Street Journal describes as “the Obama Administration’s top Afghanistan specialists” trudged into the House Foreign Affairs Committee chambers, where they were flummoxed by a question from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). What super-complicated query from the Congressman stumped these highly trained and knowledgeable representatives of the most wise and wonky Administration in history – better able to run every industry than any private citizen, as anyone who’s had contact with ObamaCare can testify?
Actually, there were two questions they couldn’t answer: how many American troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year, and how much are we spending there.
Bipartisan veins were set to throbbing by this buffoonish performance, as the Journal reports:
“We’re supposed to believe that you fellas have a plan that’s going to end up in a positive way in Afghanistan?” Mr. Rohrabacher asked. “Holy cow!”
Mr. Rohrabacher’s incredulous questioning came during a two-hour hearing on U.S. policy in Afghanistan that revealed increasing congressional frustration with U.S. policy as the administration tries to rescue its plan to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan through the end of this decade, if not beyond.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D., Va.) called the witnesses’ inability to rattle off the facts “a stunning development.”
“How can you come to a congressional oversight hearing on this subject and not know” the answers? He asked. “Like that wouldn’t be a question the tip of one’s tongue.”
The correct answers turn out to be 113 Americans killed so far this year, and $6.7 billion a month spent. But really, why would any of the Obama Administration’s operatives bother to learn those facts, even if they’re supposedly “specialists” on A-stan policy? The war has “fallen off the radar in Washington,” as the Journal puts it, “where battles over the budget, President Barack Obama’s health care program, and talks with Iran have eclipsed interest in America’s longest war as it winds to a close.”
Actually, I think Afghanistan slid off the radar a long time before those particular current events began cluttering the screen. It stopped being interesting to the media the moment Barack Obama became responsible for it. Almost 75 percent of U.S. casualties in that war have occurred on Obama’s watch, but there is absolutely no media effort to associate him with any of them. There are no casualty counts, no special events in which reporters read off the names of the fallen.
To a large extent, the media simply took Obama’s word for it when he said the war was over. He gave a speech, and that’s that. It takes quite a bit to get the media to follow up on the actual aftermath of an Obama speech.
Perhaps they feel it would be somehow “unfair” to place any responsibility for Afghanistan at his doorstep, because he didn’t start the operation. That’s not a very good attitude toward the continuity of American effort and resolve. It’s also not consistent with all the assurances we heard from Democrats in the latter Bush years that Afghanistan was “the good war,” the war we really should be focused on winning. It’s hard to remember now, but there were times when half the liberal commentariat sounded ready to grab a weapon and dive into battle against the Taliban themselves. If only that cursed business in Iraq wasn’t distracting us from victory!
The idea that our titanic mega-government can’t deal with Afghanistan because it’s consumed with ObamaCare, budget battles, and whatever the heck we’re doing in Iran is hard to square with the Left’s bottomless faith in the ultimate intelligence and superior management skill of the State. It’s hard to find anything the State seems to be managing well lately. And once the political battles are won, they don’t seem terribly interested in doing any hard or detailed work for addressing the responsibilities they have also assumed. That’s true of ObamaCare, where the search continues for someone, somewhere, who knew something about anything that was going on before the switch was thrown on October 1. And it’s true of Afghanistan, which was a well-known responsibility of the office Barack Obama ran for.
But remarkably, we’ve reached the point where the Afghanistan “specialists” don’t feel the need to bone up on any basic facts before they cruise through Congressional hearings – just imagine what the media would say if anyone from the Bush Administration had been unable to cite the casualty total! – and there’s no longer much pretense of doing anything except mark off the calendar before control of the country reverts from the squalid ingrates we installed in Kabul, back to the primitive savages who were running the joint when it became Osama bin Laden’s headquarters. Washington needs a bigger “radar screen” with much longer range. The brave American soldiers who fought so hard in that hellish place, and so often accomplished what everyone thought was impossible, deserve to be constantly in the thoughts of ever Administration they serve under.