April 30, 2012
Another depressing story out of Afghanistan — U.S. troops taking gruesome photos of themselves with bodies, and body parts, of enemy insurgents. And it comes only a short few months after an uproar over a similar case, well, actually a worse incident because some of those images showed GIs urinating on Taliban corpses.
The troops will and should face discipline. Yes, the enemy has done far worse in videotaping beheadings of civilian hostages. But this is not who we are, so these troops have to face punishment.
Still, when considering penalties, the military brass and their civilian bosses should keep in mind the impossible world our young men in uniform inhabit. They fight a brutal insurgency war where the enemy gives no quarter, our “ally” in Kabul hamstrings our successful military tactics and Afghan civilians resent us for the collateral casualties inherent in this difficult war. And far too many U.S. soldiers are on third and even fourth deployments in war zones.
And how’s that war going? Not so well if you consider that just this past weekend the Taliban succeeded in launching seven simultaneous attacks in Kabul and three provinces. Thankfully, Afghan forces did most of the fighting.
Victory keeps getting defined down. Our goal now is to hand this mess over to the Afghan army in 2014. Is that a goal worth dying for? Why wait? A decade of war is enough. Next month’s NATO summit in Chicago offers an opportunity for the Obama administration to craft a face-saving strategy to declare that the Afghan army proved last weekend it can handle Taliban attacks and that we can bring our troops home — now.