A new perspective

Published 9:30 pm Friday, March 27, 2009

More than a week ago, there was a news story about four U.S. servicemen killed in Afghanistan from a roadside bomb—the all too familiar mode of attack from an elusive enemy.

I didn’t really think much of it except that anytime my family hears any news about Afghanistan, our thoughts are with Duncan, my nephew.

In fact, he called the other day to say he may get some leave in July and return from Afghanistan to Florida for some time off. It would sure be good to see him, and my brother was hoping the timing would work out so Duncan could attend his younger brother’s court of honor ceremony for his Eagle Scout ranking.

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A couple of days later came the news of the roadside bombing.

The four servicemen killed were in the first truck of a convoy. Duncan was in the third. One of them killed was a buddy of Duncan’s that he had known from South Korea.

No matter, the witnessing of such an attack by him and others in the unit were deeply troubling, but they are soldiers and their sense of duty continues.

This is when a war hits home—when I can put a face on someone I deeply care about and love—and he’s over there.

The pain he must be having of losing a buddy and three other friends from his unit brings into slight focus of this war.

My thoughts about Afghanistan have been all along that that’s where the “real” enemy is. That’s where those who tried to kill us—U.S. citizens—were located and the logic of launching a full-scale war in Iraq and putting Afghanistan on the back burner never made sense.

Afghanistan’s fighting is increasing and intensifying. It has a potential of becoming “another Vietnam,” where the enemy is elusive, the terrain unforgiving, our mission muddled and where no victories can be delineated. Iraq was getting pretty close to that label—another Vietnam.

President Obama outlined his plans to bolster American forces in Afghanistan, and set benchmarks for progress in fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban. He also warned of intelligence estimates that al-Qaeda “is actively planning attacks on the U.S. homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan,” and that “the situation is increasingly perilous.”

The president also announced that he has a “clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”

President Obama outlined his plan for the war in Afghanistan.

My hope is no blank checks for fighting an enemy I’m not sure why we are fighting. Dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda and Taliban forces bent on killing us is a good reason to fight this war. Iraq wasn’t the case.

No more cooked-up intelligence.

If we’re not winning, say so.

If the partners in this war are the countries we’re trying to stabilize and ultimately improve, make them do their part and not let the U.S. soldier bear the brunt of the war’s burden.

And then with God speed, let Duncan and his comrades come home as heroes—living, breathing heroes.