Michael's Dispatches

President Obama Fumbled Afghanistan


Dead-ANA-1000Southern Afghanistan, 2011

31 October 2012
By Michael Yon

President Obama ascended to power through audacity, oration, and artful manipulation.  In the United States and numerous Asian countries, I saw people’s eyes glaze with unconditional trust in a man who is unfit for office.

After the last election, I happened to be home from the wars, and in Washington DC for meetings.  President-elect Obama’s inauguration was nearby, and so I attended on that freezing morning.  Some of my detractors said, “Look at that, Yon’s joined forces with Obama.”  In fact, I had campaigned against him after his many clueless statements on Iraq and Afghanistan.  Yet the inauguration was an historical event worth seeing. The new president would, after all, be the decider in the wars to which I would soon return.

Many inauguration spectators appeared to be in a trance.  Some hated President George Bush. Others talked about revenge for historical injustices.  For some it was about money for nothing, while for others it was about a sincere desire for hope and change from a vaguely defined status quo.  All were searching for something better.

Patriotism was noticeably thin at the inauguration.  Yes, there were thousands of American flags, though team spirit would be more evident at a college football game. The flags were waving in a breeze laced with the stench of entitlement.  It was not a God Bless America day. It was a God Bless Me day.

And there he was.  Our new President. I was determined to support him until he proved unworthy.  Almost four years later, many people have snapped out of the trance, and that includes many non-Americans here in Asia.  Obama’s magic wand has been broken over the knee of reality.

I cannot speak about the economy, education or healthcare, but I can speak about Afghanistan.  Obama cannot be faulted that Afghanistan is stone-aged, or that our military strategy was wrecked when he took office.  It was.  The bus was in a ditch. Obama showed up with a wrecker, promising to yank it out.  Today the wrecker is in the ditch atop the bus.

President Obama did fire General McChrystal and send General Petraeus to Afghanistan, which was smart.  But now Director Petraeus is at the CIA, and not where we most need him, which is in the military.  President Obama’s mishandling of the war has left many of us disillusioned.

Our leaders have repeatedly seen national news outlets indict the inadequacy of our MEDEVAC systems in Afghanistan.  It can be said, “Yes, but it was done this way during the last administration.”  True.  And this administration promised hope and change.

Despite sustained national coverage of the MEDEVAC issue and direct appeals to the White House and Obama’s chosen Secretary of Defense, our helicopters still fly over Islamic Afghanistan wearing Red Crosses, which signals that the helicopters are unarmed.  This has caused unforgivable delays removing wounded troops from the battlefield.

Afghanistan: In October 2001, we destroyed Mullah Omar’s mosque in Sangesar Village, down in Kandahar Province.  His second of three wives, Guljana, was from this village.  His family lived there.  This tiny mosque literally was the birthplace of the Taliban.

Under President Obama, ten years later in 2011, US troops renovated Mullah Omar’s mosque in Sangesar.  First we bombed it in 2001.  Then we fixed it in 2011.  This remains one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan.

Perhaps we forgot that Mullah Omar gave Osama bin Laden sanctuary, and then bin Laden attacked America.

The symbolic appeasement represented by refurbishing the mosque is enormous. The village is in the middle of fields of poppy.  Renovating this mosque in Sangesar is like building a dual monument to al Qaeda and drug cartels.

image003-1000Mullah Omar: If President Obama is to take credit for getting bin Laden, he must accept blame for failing to get Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar, and for refurbishing Mullah Omar’s mosque.

We are not in this together.  Sangesar is an enemy village.  Our troops still die there.

In 2012, Mullah Omar praised the murders of Coalition forces.  General John Allen, the US commander at the time, called it “an unmistakable message of death.”  Mullah Omar was so busy directing the faithful to murder our troops that he forgot to express gratitude for the revenue stream from opium, and for the renovated mosque demonstrating his potency.

This year, the casualties continue.   In March, at Sangesar, three Afghan insiders turned their guns on Americans, killing Staff Sergeant Jordan Bear from Denver, and Specialist Payton Jones from Marble Falls, Texas.  Another Soldier was wounded.  That is the payment that we can expect for appeasing Islamic-narco-terrorists.

I was in the general area last year, and in previous years, and it was mostly about combat.  Our young troops are something to be proud of, and if you saw them in action you would be amazed at their courage and professionalism.  The mess that we shoved them into is a national shame. We provided about half the troops required for the stated strategy, then began pulling them out against a domestic political deadline that has nothing to do with the war.  The surge has been a wasted effort.

America saw both President Obama and Governor Romney endorse our Afghanistan strategy during their last debate, where ISAF forces train the Afghan Army and Police as a prelude to our disengagement in 2014. This is a broken strategy, with Afghans murdering so many of their trainers.

At least 30% of Afghan trainees must be replaced annually due to desertions and endemic corruption. Training Afghans to replace Coalition forces is not working. As we draw down, the enemy will be able to focus on fewer troops. Hollow Afghan units will collapse, and corrupt Afghan politicians will finally abscond to Dubai.  We should cut our losses and remove the bulk of our force.

Although Obama needs to go home, this is no guarantee that Romney will do better. If Romney is elected, he will need a bigger wrecker.  He is guaranteed the same honest chance that Obama received.  Nothing less, nothing more.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Toaster · 8 years ago
    Sadly agree, our Middle East policy went from dumb to dumber.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Puckett · 8 years ago
    I could not agree more Mr. Yon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    YZ · 8 years ago
    So what are you trying to say?

    This is a rhetorical question, no reply needed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    peter · 8 years ago
    Well, Salt Lake City is now a beautiful oasis!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gina Browning · 8 years ago
    Brilliant article Michael! Thanks!
    My son was in Kandahar last year and is now with a Medevac unit in the J-Bad area. So you articles and posts mean a lot to me. Thanks!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Colin P · 8 years ago
    :cry: Sad but true...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff E · 8 years ago
    Well said as usual Michael. I'm grateful for you and your insight. The statement you made "Obama’s magic wand has been broken over the knee of reality." pretty much could sums it all up. I am most definitely not a racist and I have never supported the man, but was still proud that America and democracy could elect a non-white. We'd come along way. But this been like an experiment gone wrong. So much had to be done and life could have been better but for this president listening to the wrong people in general and not the right people in the Defense Department. Specifically General Petraeus and other competent leaders saying to surge in Afghanistan, and then plan on getting out. I pray that next Tuesday the "trance" is broken entirely and we can restore some dignity and solid leadership to the Washington. God bless you Michael. Thanks for speaking out. Well done!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Daniel M. Ward · 8 years ago
    I believe that, before starting Army Basic Training in 1969, I and many many like me (whether draftee or volunteer) had a good idea or concept (from at least a K-12 education) to justify our stepping up and taking our oath. Sure, Vietnam was controversial, but there was still the other aspects of the Cold War. After reading the above, I tried to step in the shoes and mind of the typical Afghan soldier who -- given the socio (tribal) and political landscape of his country -- surely must ask himself: For what? For, not what we want, but what they want. And apparently that's continued tribalism, a weak central government, narco growing and dealing, and Mullah Omar types calling the shots.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Greg · 8 years ago
    Excellent article Michael.

    As a civi-outsider, it unfortunately appears to me that is was all for naught. I know that was never the intention, but the way we went in vs. the way we're going out makes no sense to me.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    karen · 8 years ago
    this is very sad, GOD bless u and your work
  • This commment is unpublished.
    annie · 8 years ago
    Obama was never politics as usual. You've exposed the tip of the iceberg, Mike, an important tip...The USA is like the Titanic and Obama is the iceberg that has ripped our side open and we are going down. Unfortunately the wars are not all he has sabotaged either by ignorance or on purpose can be debated...but a communist/pro-islamist could never have been good for America or Western Civilization. Neither system works, neither is good and neither respects our Constitution or laws. He's stolen our money and bought so many of those unpatriotic votes you spoke of that I fear we will be stuck with him for 4 more years...and if we survive those...then what. What he has done to our Military is a crime and in my book he's a traitor. I live in another war zone where we are being invaded from the South across an unsecure border...yeah...an open border to all the terrorists and drug cartels who want to enter. Face it Mike..He is not doing his first job to defend and keep our country secure. This is negligence of duty...first duty. A welfare country never works but is an open door for a dictator to enter. This whole country is in that ditch you spoke of and maybe Romney is no mesiah...but then the mesiah that this country foolishly elected turned out to be a false mesiah. Maybe Romney can start to turn it around...I don't know but he is bound to be better than what we have. God help our Military men, our great Military men, to fight a war with BOTH hands tied behind their backs. Heck...you say they rebuilt that mosque? We have them building mosque that are just as evil all over this land. You see it in Afghanistan...I see it in my back yard right here at home. I hope people's eyes are wide open now but Mike....there are none so blind as those who refuse to see. Thanks for a good article. Stay safe wherever you are....I know we still have many great patriotic Americans but we are going to have to wise up and turn this whole ship around and that isn't going to be an easy job. We are way off course.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Arlene · 8 years ago
    It seemed to me, as soon as Patraeus was taken out of leadership, the whole thing fell apart. No leadership. I hate the statistics; I hate the red crosses on the helicopters. I can only hope Romney will surround himself with the right people, for the sake of our wonderful troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sun Tzu · 8 years ago
    Michael came out with the unmitigated truth about this foreign born and conceived jackanapes, who is nothing more than a Manchurian Candidate of the Communist/socialist/pro-islamist filth that is ruining our great country while spreading it's vile diseases of entitlement, enviro-fascism and hating "whitey" around the world. :sad:

    Comparing the present trash running/ruining our great country to pond scum is an insult to pond scum

    What this human paraquat has done to our great country, plus add the recent tragedy in Benghazi, is criminal and treasonous :-?

    Life imprisonment would be too good for these traitors to the Constitution and the American ideals which have saved millions across the planet from, slavery, tyranny, and fear!

    I had nothing particularly against Communists and Socialists, until I met a few of them. Now I see them as nothing more than the tools of evil and the devil himself :eek:
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Nazgul · 8 years ago
      [quote name="Sun Tzu"]
      I had nothing particularly against Communists and Socialists, until I met a few of them. Now I see them as nothing more than the tools of evil and the devil himself :eek:[/quote]

      You know, I don't frequent this comment section that often. But your comments border on some kind of obsession sometimes. You really come off as a nutjob to be honest. You ever stop to read what you actually write and think how other people might actually view your comments? Or you just don't care?
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Sun Tzu · 8 years ago
        The only nut jobs in here is folks like yourself who believe Communists and Socialists either don't exist or are harmless

        To make an inane asinine rebuttal like that is typical of the leftist trash that comes in here supporting the pro-terrorist Communist Obomination and it's ilk :-?

        Go away troll, your Messiah's days are numbered and then you'll have to find a real job instead of wasting the taxpayers money going around from site to regurgitating your masters voice

        BTW I thought it was a violation of Government computing systems to use them is such away as your doing supporting the PMIC :-*
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Deidre · 8 years ago
    Thanks, Michael. The Taliban and all other terrorist entities in Afghanistan are just biding their time, killing a few troops here, a few there, just to keep their hand in on the killing fields. They are poised to take over the minute the bulk of Western troops pull out. If you go into a war intending to win and then lose your way by depriving the war of the best tactical minds, play a P.C. game, institute a pathetic ROE, then it was, indeed, all for naught. I hate like H to come home with our tail between the legs, but that is what we will be doing. And the Taliban has the last laugh at the weakest horse in the world.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sun Tzu · 8 years ago
    I am NO fan of Mitt, to me he just a Republican In Name Only (RINO). Another NE liberal paradaing as a conservative, but I do believe he will do a much beter job of handling the economy and our foriegn policy, not by himself, but by the people he'll be forced to work with, that can effect meaningful Change.

    Much better that the Communists and socialists the present half-white skunk has surrounded itself with in the WH

    Bring in the fumigators when this trash is thrown out with the rest of the human cockroaches :-x
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Erik · 8 years ago
    The not-so-funny thing is that if the Federal Government had the sense to end the war on drugs, they would very quickly dry up a major source of the Taliban's funding as prices for Opium dropped from black-market to open-market levels.

    Basically, we spend $42 billion a year at home to prop up the profit margins of the drug cartels and Taliban. Crazy.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Shea Brown · 8 years ago
    Does anyone really believe Obama was leading anything or suggesting any policy to the Pentagon? I think he was taking orders from somebody. I agree with Michael,, we need to get the hell out of there, and quickly.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bystander · 8 years ago
    Wonder if the rebuilding of the mosque in Sangesar Village was ever reported in the mainstream press in 2011. I don't remember seeing anything about it. There was, as Mr. Yon said, a good reason to destroy it in 2001. And good reasons to keep it so. Lord,I hope we have a change in leadership next week. I believe people will feel better immediately to have a real grown-up running things, even if it takes a while to put the lid back on Pandora's box. As a nation, we should know better than to elect an unqualified ideologue.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cato · 8 years ago
    The election of Obama did not prove that Americans can elect a minority candidate, it proved that the electorate can put a total incompetent in the White House, followed by 4 years of embarrassed silence. We can fix the Presidency situation, but how do we fix Stupid on a national level?

    Truly, if you don't know anything about politics and who you're voting for, you would be doing the nation a great favor by staying home. Don't vote. We have enough uninformed opinions out there already.

    Unfortunately the good voter worries about making the right choice. The Stupid voter has no trepidation, charging ahead blind. We have all paid the price for this. I lost my job in February and I'm still looking.

    I don't want any help, I don't want hand-outs, but I do want Stupid people to refrain from another uninformed decision. They are not the only folks who have to live with their clueless choices.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Lovett · 8 years ago
    A disappointing blog Michael and not up to your usual standard of excellence.
    Afghanistan was a lost cause before Obama became President but the reality of having to admit to failure is too hard for most politicians to endure. The lessons of history have been totally ignored when it comes to the place but the allure of nation building was too much for Bush Jr. and the inevitable process to failure was begun.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Englishboy · 8 years ago
    Come On!
    Barack didn't build that mosque - someone in Public affairs built that mosque on the advice of a military officer who thought it would help.
    Don't blame your politicians for the crap decision-making that your military make on their behalf...ours do the same.
    Get real and recognise that the politicians only work on the signals that the military give out...that's why the whole thing is so effed up.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CJ · 8 years ago
    Good! Obama scared the bejeebus out of me the FIRST time I saw a speech.

    Inexplicably, the electorate chose him to lead this great nation.

    At a time when we needed strong leadership, sound strategy, and a steady hand we got waffling, conflicting messages and updates on his golf scores.

    And people die because this man sends them to places that none of us will ever have to be.

    I cannot voice my respect and admiration for our brave military men and women enough.

    I also cannot voice my disgust and disdain for the current POTUS.

    And, people, I cannot stress the importance of YOUR vote in the Nov. 6th election enough.

    You are one vote, one person, and you most definitely count.

    Don't slack on this duty. Not while America's sons and daughters fight on foreign soil against faceless enemies to protect you and your freedoms.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pete · 8 years ago
    I agree with your observation about the "stink of entitlement". But it comes as much from the high-ender crowd that Romney comes from as those you observed at the last inauguration. The ones who grew up on "programs", and are wondering where the next handout is coming from.
    But putting an end to the culture of entitlement is probably about as difficult as winning a war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile both these camps keep sucking the economic life out of the middle class, the people who actually pay for this mess.
    I'm sick and tired of both groups.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      STDog · 8 years ago
      That depends a lot on how you define the "middle class"

      The top 25% of income earners pay 87% of the taxes. That leaves the bottom 75% (much more than just the middle) only 13% to pay.

      See a lot of it depends on how you define the middle. The top 25% has an AGI of $66k. (Now that's AGI, so after several adjustments like HSAs, capital losses, education expenses, and so on). How many making under $100k would not claim to be in the middle? What about $200k?
      Neither group is really in the middle.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Sun Tzu · 8 years ago
        It never ceases to amaze me how little most people know about who really pays for everything in this country :-?

        If you say the "RICH" and "corporations" then you are an ignorant dolt The "RICH" don't pay taxes because they either have smart CPA's like my friend and partner, i.e all the tax laws are setup to keep the "RICH" and corporations from paying any taxes, or the "RICH" are well insulated coupon clippers of tax free securities. Corporations and wealthy individuals who provided goods and services pass on any residual tax burden to their customers, if they don't then they and/or their CPA's are dolts!

        The comments above try to define who the "middle class" is which is a futile exercise unless you firmly define who are the "RICH" class, $250,000 AGI, ridiculous, in most metropolitan areas, especially CA, you are only financial screw-up/paycheck from being on the street One million AGI, you be might just be upper middle class in most well heeled parts of the county and again just one financial screw up from being in the street :-?

        The fact is most people don't really don't know who the "RICH" are in this country, they think it's anyone who has more stuff than they have! I tell you this, the more stuff crowd just has more and more to worry about losing, as I mentioned perviously about income margins, most of them are living beyond their means.

        So who really pays the final tax bill for all the programs and goodies and government hand outs :-? If your are on a W2, or filing a 1040, YOU DO!

        NOT THE RICH

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve-O · 8 years ago
    Your right, we are all waiting for Nov 2 to flush the toilet
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    Bob Baird · 8 years ago
    Agree to most but not all of the above. The one in point is I do not agree with your opinion of Gen. McCrystal. Not my war and I was not there but from folks I know who were at that time he did a ok job. Not perfect, but NO ONE has come close to perfect in either of the two war's of the last 15 years.Still, keep up the good work and I will keep supporting you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TMI · 8 years ago

    Has the army perhaps considered using lie detectors on those Afghan trainees they recruit, and repeat the test once every month?
    This may give a higher chance detecting insurgents amongst them.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Sun Tzu · 8 years ago
      [quote name="TMI"]Question:

      Has the army perhaps considered using lie detectors on those Afghan trainees they recruit, and repeat the test once every month?
      This may give a higher chance detecting insurgents amongst them.[/quote]

      Good idea, but it won't work with these types of personalities, who will view the lie (emotion) detector test as a terrorist interrogation, will with their ingrained mistrust and paranoia, cause them to either freeze up or fall apart, rendering the emotion test useless

      In depth solid background checks is the best way, but in a country run by corrupt patronage more than ability and trust, we will continue get bad apples, that is until our policies change to fit the mold :-?
      • This commment is unpublished.
        TMI · 8 years ago
        You guys are aware that you all are "the big Satan" to them, right? No matter what they tell you. There may be a few (very few) exceptions who may even be secret apostates but can never escape Islam. But that is how they truly think of you all. It's ingrained from childhood indoctrination.

        Are soldiers given an overview of the content of the Hadith and Sirat (the life and teachings of Mohammed) to get an understanding what truly horrid beliefs they are brought up to follow, without sugarcoating it for you? It's a merit to kill a non-Muslim. Not only a merit, but a duty and obligation ordained by Mohammed.

        It's vicious for the clueless Obama administration to send the military there. And the absurd requirements to rebuild a Taliban mosque (!) is just insane. Mosques are not places of worship. They are places for gathering and planning wars or attacks against enemies.

        Look at the Ramadan. There are more Muslims slaughtering other Muslims during the "holy" Ramadan than any other time of the year. The Ramadan is a celebration in preparation of war and martyrdom.

        I hope you all keep safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TMI · 8 years ago
    Having lived in Muslim countries for many years and well aware of these cultures, I can say for certain that there is only one way of changing a nation like Afghanistan:

    1) Dismantle and ban Islam and all the Sunna's, like the West gas banned Mein Kampf. The indoctrination comes from that 'religion' which is actually a political ideology and war manual.
    2) Re-educate the children from a small age with a completely different set of human values.

    Then you can only hope the next generation will come out more humane. That is the only way it can be done, as I see it from years of volunteer experience in troubles nations.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      TMI · 8 years ago
      Sorry for the typo. Should read:

      ...like the West has banned Mein Kampf.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Emanuel · 2 years ago
    Spoilers will be existing inside of the post.

    my website ... how i play games: https://how-i-play-games-79.webself.net/

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