From An Angry Reader:
Subject: Tribune Editorial
You no doubt consider yourself to be an objective journalist, but I suggest that you are little more than a shill for Donald Trump and his sycophants. Your so-called editorial, “There’s a problem in the upper reaches of our military,” is blatantly one-sided; so much so, that I cannot take the time required to adequately critique it.
Suffice it to say that you completely ignore the disastrous drug-deal negotiated by Pompeo with the Taliban on Trump’s behalf, which included the release of FIVE THOUSAND Taliban prisoners. I just wonder how many of those 5,000 Taliban participated in the recent Taliban offensive? I wonder how many of those 5,000 currently encircle the Kabul airport? Did you bother to contemplate those questions while drafting your laundry list of those that ” …have managed to birth a new terrorist haven…”? Oddly enough, your lame excuse for an editorial also failed to include Mike Pompeo’s photo opportunity with Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Question: Were you able to find a photo of Joe Biden or Antony Blinken posing with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar? …or any Taliban fighter?
You strike me as one of those many middle-aged right-wing Republican hawks, like John Bolton, that are ready to fight to the last drop of someone else’s blood. You have no skin in the game; you didn’t serve, and neither will your children or grandchildren. What’s more, you probably won’t even agree to have your taxes raised to pay for the wars you find so very patriotic. But you are, nonetheless, quite comfortable in the armchair warrior role.
You purport to be a military historian…may I remind you of which party was responsible for the folly of invading, and then occupying, Afghanistan in 2001? I mean, that idea worked so well when the USSR decided to invade Afghanistan and turn it into a Marxist state. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in history, and I suspect that is where our common experience ends. I don’t work in a conservative think-tank, but I have 38 years of service in the Army and Army Reserve, and have practiced law for the last 39 years; I know horse shit when I see it.
Daniel E. Speir
LTC, JA, USAR (Ret.)
Dear Angry Reader Daniel E. Speir,
I stomached your Angry reader rant until you descended into the usual ad hominem potty talk (e.g., “horse-sh*t”). Otherwise, your letter is full of the usual contradiction, misinformation, personal venting, general incoherence, and appeals from your purported authority. Almost everything you said is either untrue or ahistorical.
1) I am not “an objective journalist” but rather an opinion writer, tasked with providing editorials on the day’s events from a more traditional and conservative perspective. I am neither a reporter nor a journalist, but an opinion writer, who looks at current events and tries to offer commentary and analysis of them.
2) Please don’t resort to the ancient rhetorical trick of “I could say so much, but I simply don’t have the time.” The sophist employs such apophasis when he otherwise has not much to say.
3) You fail to deal with the central truth: 65 percent of the American people wanted out of Afghanistan after 20 years; and yet 70 percent do not like the way Joe Biden did it.
Start there. Trump crafted a plan to get out, negotiated a withdrawal, and then had established conditions which if violated would result in the sort of the punishments and reprisals he was known for in bombing ISIS out of Syria and taking out Iranian General Soleimani. That is why he left office without 1 dead American in his last 12 months, a viable Afghanistan, and 2,500 troops supplying air support and logistical help for the Afghan national army, as well as the possession of Bagram airbase and the U.S. embassy, and protection of American civilians and billions of dollars in U.S. hardware.
Those are the facts. Joe Biden followed that paradigm until late spring. The Taliban then began testing him. He did not respond in deterrent fashion because he wanted out and cared little how was it done, only that it was done, apparently, for high-five purposes, by the iconic September 11 date. That rush required him to mislead the nation by claiming there was no chance of a Vietnam-like implosion even as he secretly was calling the Afghan president to urge him to lie by assuring the world that the situation was not bleak in Afghanistan and thus did not endanger a rapid and complete U.S. withdrawal.
Biden also lied in assuring the Afghan government that it would have continued U.S. air support when he had no intention of doing so. This is not my conclusion but that of most of the American people, our NATO members, the Western alliance, and many in Biden’s own party.
While I did not support such photo-ops and any prisoner releases, I look at the results. And under the Trump withdrawal schedule, there were graduated sequences subject to conditions; and when they altered, Trump relented and kept troops at Bagram. And when he left office, the Afghan National Army was viable, because the Taliban believed that Trump would hit them if they violated the conditions of the agreements and so kept quiet until Biden took office. Then the Taliban bet, correctly, that Biden would simply skedaddle, although I doubt they ever imagined so quickly, shamelessly, and with such abandonment of billions in U.S. weaponry.
The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 on a joint resolution of the Congress, and with UN authorization, empowered to drive out Osama bin Laden from his sanctuary or kill him, to stop Afghanistan being used as a terrorist haven, and to depose the Taliban that had empowered the 9/11 killers. That mission was largely completed and what followed was subject to controversy as the U.S. role expanded to creating a Western social welfare state, at great cost to us, but with limited viability in a traditional and essentially pre-industrial Islamic society. Americans disagree about the ensuing mission creep, but they do agree that Joe Biden in a few days destroyed any chance of a viable Afghanistan without the Taliban or al Qaeda—and empowered our global enemies in the sordid process.
4) The rest of your letter is an ad hominem mishmash.
I am a registered Independent not a Republican. I have been critical of John Bolton. I leave the decision of my children to join or not join the military up to them. You know nothing about my grandchildren, or their general health or welfare, and to suggest you do reveals your nature not mine.
What an egocentric, strange assumption that only soldiers have won the right to comment on one’s national policies, as if Generals Milley and Austin have some divine right to be assumed wise on their reckless exit from Afghanistan or because of the ribbons plastered all over their chests. Ditto your reference to “39 years” (why not 45, 60,40, or 70?) of practicing law, as if the law de facto is a profession known for its ethics, legality, and wisdom. Your own letter suggests legal training is divorced from the art of either argumentation or common sense.
I farmed for much of my life, and found the combination of heavy equipment, chemicals, and often violent people not always a safe occupation. Under your own logic you have not won the right to talk of national food policy or agriculture in general since you may know nothing about how food is grown or produced. If we were all soldiers, how would we eat? Who would educate us?
Your logic ends in incoherence. I visited Iraq twice during the surge of 2006 and again 2007, and tried to travel to as many front-line areas as possible. I have taught at the US Naval Academy and spoken at a lot of U.S. military institutions. From all that I know that soldiers are people. Some are in front-line units; some never. Some have dangerous jobs; some no different than their civilian counterparts. To say that you have some claim on military wisdom or morality depends on the nature of your service, and is as valid or not as valid as your other narcissistic references to your degrees.
A B.A., M.A., Ph.D. may or may not suggest historical competence. Some of our greatest historians had no such credentials; some with them had no historical aptitude. What distinguishes you from me, aside from your absence of civility, is your self-referencing. I am not criticizing your poorly argued views on the basis on affiliations, degrees or awards earned, or any other argument from authority, but simply your own lack of logic and coherence, and your unprofessional resort to ad hominem invective.
I don’t think the Hoover Institution is necessarily “a conservative think-tank”; most of its fellows in toto more likely voted for Joe Biden than the few of us who voted for Donald Trump. I spent much of my life farming, while teaching 4-5 courses a semester at Cal State Fresno to mostly minority students. I think one could argue that rural Fresno County where I live is not always a safe place, so your blanket generalizations are just that.
Oh, one other point: I will not sign off with a conglomeration of letters after my name to suggest authority to compensate for the lack of coherence.