President Obama's televised remarks from Afghanistan last night gave the impression to many Americans that he is giving credit where it is due, but the smoothest liar to every occupy the White House may have taken a bridge to far, to echo the story of paratroopers who jumped too far and could not hold the ground they had taken.
Of far greater concern, President Obama has committed American special operations to a battle which is a "bridge too far" without any confirmed "status of forces" agreement to protect them from future arrests and trials in Afghanistan where he still plans to deploy them.
To underscore this threat, former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens was quoted on Fox News reporting that special operations forces know that Afghanistan is considered the third most corrupt government in the world. American special operations forces may have more to worry about from our own ally than from the Taliban.
And within hours of the President's televised remarks from Afghanistan and his boarding a plane for the flight back to the United States, suicide bombers killed seven contracts as they attacked a privately owned housing complex for international contractors in Kabul.
There is near-panic among both the independent contractors needed to keep order in Afghanistan as well as the civilian population at the mercy of Taliban forces as the United States departs leaving only empty promises of future assistance.
In this case, just like in the real story that was told in "A Bridge Too Far" the President may have landed right on top of an armored Panzer Division. As nimble and adept a campaigner as he may be, angry special operators who resent his politicizing and publicizing their work may be the unintended blowback that makes the past week a very bad one for the President's reelection campaign.
More important, the President may have committed our "silent warriors" to fight a battle like the World War II fight, too far away from help and facing serious trouble.
The week strted out with his made for the web, 120 seconds long video commercial in which Obama breaks his hand patting himself on the back for his "gutsy" decision to take out Osama Bin Laden one year ago - with the ad coming out on the one year anniversary.
The President's ad suggests that the President made the decision that Mitt Romney would not have made, and implies rather strongly that we should reelect him because of his unique courage. Later a partial quote of what Mitt Romney said five years ago was cited as justification for such a claim.
First, the President's Men took Mitt Romney out of context. Put more plainly: they lied, and it leads right into the double "Bridge Too Far" theme I am writing about today.
The truth is that Mitt Romney gave the rather old fashioned idea 5 years ago running for President, that a candidate for President ought not to spell out every single detail of how he would go after Usama Bin Laden, not give away what should be secret national security details.
He said in a followup interview a few days after his original remarks, that he'd not want to tell Germany or any other country for example, that if they did not do what he wanted to his satisfaction he would then invade their country with American troops. That is pure trouble and gives away too much information, puts our military in danger, provokes another country.
Clearly, our announcing in advance that we intend to ignore the sovereignty of another country is surely going to provoke that other country and cause a firestorm.
Most important, Mitt Romney was prescient in suggesting that the war against these terrorists will not be won and ended simply because we kill one terrorist leader.
"We'll move everything to get him," said Romney in the MSNBC debate in May, 2007, "But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person. ... It's more than Usama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die."
Does that sound to you like Mitt Romney would have refused to give his approval to the plan presented to President Obama?
That is exactly today, the President's narrative - that he has ended the war by killing Usama Bin Laden and we can now rest easy, withdraw our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and reelect the man who has been so successful. What the President is doing today is to make Mitt Romney appear prescient 5 years ago.
There are several problems with the President's plan.
First, it isn't true. Killing Bin Laden did not end the war against America one year ago. We continue to learn of threats against America regularly. Mitt Romney was correct in what he said five years ago.
Second, it is becoming increasingly clear to Americans that the President's "plan" to go after Usama Bin-Laden was simply the continuation of the strategy put in place by President George Bush and his Administration, including the strengthened special operations forces which include the Navy SEAL's whose budget was dramatically increased during the Bush-Cheney years.
Ironically, Bill Clinton, the President who had the chance to capture Bin Laden and didn't take it, and who allowed attacks on America at the World Trade Center but treated it as a crime instead of an open war, is the narrator of the web-video ad for President Obama.
The man who refused to go after Bin Laden, is the one who excoriates Mitt Romney as indecisive or unwilling to act. The gall of the Obama and Clinton team is really remarkable.
But the biggest blowback may be yet to come.
Many Americans do not yet realize how vital stealth and secrecy is, to the world of the special operations command.
The special operators include Navy SEAL's, US Army Rangers, Army Green Beret, Air Force and Marines.
The President's speech contained this gem, where he appears to be completely unaware of the work of our military and especially of the Special Operators who produced the result one year ago this week:
"But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban's momentum. We've built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al Qaeda's leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set -- to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild -- is within reach."
So all of this has been accomplished by Barack Obama himself - to hear him tell it - and all within the last three years?
Here is what the Special Operations Command has to say about their operators:
"It takes years to train operation units to the level of proficiency needed to accomplish difficult and specialized SOF missions. Intense training - both in SOF schools and units - is required to integrate competent individuals into fully capable units. This process cannot be hastened without degrading ultimate capability." (source: http://www.socom.mil/default.aspx)
Like most mainstream conservatives who have written or spoken, I've seen the silly claims that we are all "neocons" and "warmongers" unless we agree that America should adopt the policy of George McGovern, the leftwing candidate for President nominated by the Democrats and slaughtered in the 1972 election.
But the President's macho claims are at odds with the truth. And despite the many things that Christian conservatives may have had differences with President Bush about, the truth is that the modern day force of Special Operators in the service of America today, are the product of the Bush years.
And a "gutsy" decision, as Joe Biden claims and as Bill Clinton's web video claims?
Ryan Zinke, a former SEAL now a GOP State Senator from Montana, said "the decision was a no-brainer."
About all the unwanted publicity, as the President makes "his" use of special operators a central part of his reelection campaign with this TV ad and with all the media coverage of the once secretive special operators, Clint Bruce, a Navy SEAL officer said "we were extremely surprised and discouraged by the publicity because it compromises the ability of those guys to operate.... the intricacies of national security should not become part of stump speeches."
Ask yourself this question.
If you had a son or a husband who was a part of this once secretive group of special operators would you feel better now that the President is so openly speaking of the details of their work, or would it make you more nervous about the future safety and security of your loved one?
If it were your loved ones life on the line, would you prefer to not read about details of how they operate, or would you be glad that the President and his campaigners are speaking out in such detail?
And if it was the dedication, training, sacrifice, courage and risk of his life of your son or husband that was put at the service of your country, would you be happy or angry after the President took all the credit in his speech last night, saying "The goal that I set -- to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild -- is within reach"?
The President's willingness, after he has already retreated from Iraq and is retreating from Afghanistan, to negotiate with the Taliban who have killed so many Americans, is not something that is very popular with those who have served.
President Obama said last night, "my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban."
As Americans come to understand that President Obama is having dealings with these terrorists, and has nothing he can negotiate with (unless he is going to pay them our tax dollars and don't laugh!), I believe they will be outraged.
The President said "The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: as you stand up, you will not stand alone." But he is withdrawing troops and is claiming today that he reached an agreement to reach a future agreement.
That is downright silly.
Anyone who has ever purchased real estate knows that an agreement to buy a house is only backed with earnest money and is never enforceable - you cannot MAKE somebody reach an agreement, you can only make them forfeit their earnest money.
America' s earnest money is the blood and treasure we already paid. It is already forfeit. There is no such thing as an enforceable "agreement to agree" as the President said with a straight face on TV last night.
When we Christian conservatives object to the President's politicizing of the secretive, stealthy, small but highly trained special operations forces we are accused of being political. If the President can run for reelection as a special operations commander he will do so, while the President's men denounce as "political" those of us who object.
I pray that Americans will understand the work done years in advance to build this community of silent warriors, and that the damage being done to them right now will take many more years to repair.
This President is harvesting the crop planted years earlier by George Bush and the conservatives who have always been the strongest supporters of special operations. The next President will harvest a force weakened and damaged by this politicizing of the work of the once silent warriors, by the most leftwing President in history.
The magnificent "Bridge Too Far" movie was about a tragedy, where American paratroopers in Operation Market Garden attempted to outflank German Forces in World War II by seizing bridges in advance of an armored advance. The 35,000 paratroopers flew 300 miles from air bases in England into the Netherlands, with one group of Americans being dropped 64 miles behind enemy lines at Arnhem.
Despite reports that the lightly armed paratroopers would be landed right on top of German tanks, the plan of British General Montgomery goes forward, despite the warning by British Lt. General Frederick Browning, "I think we may be going a bridge too far."
But General Montgomary believed that his armored troops (tanks) could cross bridge after bridge and advance so rapidly that they would be able to relieve the paratroopers at the Arnhem Bridge 64 miles behind enemy lines. He was wrong. That was in fact, a "bridge too far."
The movie illustrates the disaster of overreaching with a small but highly trained and highly motivated band of paratroopers - special operators - being used incorrectly and not being reinforced and supported. In Operation Market Garden, some of them were slaughtered by the German tanks and SS forces, and only a very small fraction actually escaped death or capture at Arnhem.
We still do not even have a "status of forces" agreement signed with either Afghanistan or Iraq, where America's special operators are being sent by this President - with less secrecy and stealth than ever before, into battle. I pray that it isn't "a bridge too far" for our special operators.
And I pray that this week, it IS a "bridge too far" for President Obama, who will be thwarted by the America people before our special operations forces pay the price for his blunder.
HanoverHenry of RED STATE is Pat Henry on Facebook, and I'm on the lookout for new friends there. You can also communicate via private mail at Facebook, and I welcome new sources for my articles focusing on the conservative-Christian viewpoint in Pennsylvania. I appreciate your sharing this article elsewhere and only ask that you include this "disclaimer" in any reprints or sharing you do. And I thank those whose information have helped me with some of my reports, including those who do not wish to be quoted by name.
Links to articles I wrote at RED STATE at my Facebook Notes section.