November 18, 2012

Arianna Huffington Uses the Onion to Support Anti-Petraus, Anti-’the Generals’ Argument

In her “Sunday Roundup” post at the site which bears her last name, Arianna Huffington supported that notion that “This week, America finally began questioning the judgment of its generals,” but lamented that the scrutiny is over “sexual conduct rather than military conduct.”

Fine, that’s her opinion. But what’s really odd is that she apparently thought that referencing a headline found at the Onion would be seen by readers as meaningful support for her argument (HT to a NewsBusters tipster):

If our failed military strategy in Afghanistan had gotten half the airtime of Petraeus’ failed marital strategy in Tampa, there would be far fewer families mourning the loss of a truly fallen soldier. This Onion headline perfectly sums up our country’s perverted priorities: “Nation Horrified To Learn About War In Afghanistan While Reading Up On Petraeus Sex Scandal.”

You don’t understand, Arianna. The reason “our failed military strategy” doesn’t get media attention is that the person presiding over the war for the past four years is a Democrat deemed untouchable by the establishment press — a posture you have generally supported any time a center-right reporter or commentator points out his considerable shortcomings in so many policy areas.

A strong argument can be made that the reason for the lack of progress and in some instance backsliding in Afghanistan is Obama administration-imposed constraints on what soldiers can and cannot do in the battlefield, as explained by Marine war veteran Paul Szoldra at Business Insider in August:

MARINE: Strict Rules Of Engagement Are Killing More Americans Than Enemy In This Lost War

… the war is forgotten by everyone except the men and women who continue to fight it. My mostly quiet wartime memory of 2005 has exploded into a battlefield of heavy combat with the casualties to go along with it.

And yet all the blood, destruction—all the efforts of our military—cannot change the unfortunate and highly probable outcome that our 2014 exit from Afghanistan will be marked as a failure.

I don’t want to believe it, but we are losing this war.

Each day our soldiers and Marines leave the wire, only to face increasing attacks from a determined enemy. An insurgency that continues to enjoy support—even from inside a corrupt government in Kabul as well as Islamabad.

Instead of being afraid of the might of U.S. firepower, enemy fighters use our rules of engagement (ROE) and restrictions on air support against us. When faced with a split-second decision of whether to shoot, soldiers many times must hesitate—or be investigated. Or, as in the case of the 2009 Battle of Ganjgal, excessive restrictions on air and artillery assets unfortunately meant excessive American deaths.

“We are willing to restrict ourselves to the point of helplessness to avoid even a possibility of civilian casualties,” said one military officer who I’ll refer to as Evan, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I have personally watched the same man arm and disarm 12 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) over a week, with no strikes allowed due to collateral concerns.”

The failure of the war does not rest at the hands of the brave troops who patrol every day. It lies with top military leadership and politicians, who have effectively choked our troops so badly that their mission has become impossible.

“I cannot emphasize just how badly the pullout date has ruined our efforts over here,” said Evan. “Down to the lowest soldier, there is a very palpable sense that everything we’ve done is too little, too late.”

Huffington calls it a “scandal” that “U.S. and allied soldiers are still dying in Afghanistan at a rate of one per day, as America’s longest war drags on.” (I wonder if she has ever called the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans as a result of Operation Fast and Furious a “scandal”?) She’s right, but the blame for the “scandal” goes to the ROE — and that’s not the soldiers’ or the generals’ fault, except in one sense: Perhaps if more generals spoke out against the ROE, things might change. If they are prohibited from doing so by their codes of conduct as soldiers and they really believe that the ROE put their men and women in harm’s way, I would think that resignation might be the most viable option.

As to Huffington’s link to the Onion, I guess Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert weren’t available for quotes before her deadline.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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1 Comment

  1. The only general who deserves scrutiny for military conduct is the Commander-in-Chief, who has abandoned Iraq to possible defeat and whose handling of Afghanistan, which includes negotiating with the Taliban and throwing out morale crushing ‘deadlines’ amongst other victory undermining tactics, has negatively affected that battle.

    Comment by zf — November 18, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

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