Commentary by Lt. Colonel John Lewis Cook, USA (ret.)
I have often wondered, over the past few years, what has happened to our senior military commanders. They all appear to be petty bureaucrats, more suited to the Department of State than the Department of Defense. While serving in Afghanistan during the past four and a half years, I watched in amazement at President Hamid Karzai pushed them around like so many sissies on the playground. When Karzai complained about civilian casualties there, they apologized and said they would be more careful, which meant they would transfer more risk to our troops on the ground. This led to the infamous “rules of engagement,” which placed a higher premium of the lives of Afghan civilians than our forces. Our commanders refused to point out to Karzai that in war, civilians die and far more were killed by the Taliban deliberately than the few we killed accidently. Yet, they failed to confront him, claiming that would be a “breach of diplomacy.” When Karzai threatened to join the Taliban unless we stopped accusing him of corruption, not a peep was heard from our military leaders.
Later, when the Obama administration decided that “don’t ask don’t tell” needed to end in 2011, our military leaders quickly fell in line and said it was a great idea, and gays were welcomed in with open arms. Never mind that the military had good reason to oppose it for decades. When the administration caved in to feminists demands from Washington to allow females to serve in combat recently, the brass replied with a hearty “Yes Sir!” No one even bothered to consult the thousands of women who were making great contributions within the armed forces if they wanted to go into actual combat because they knew what the answer would be. Instead of looking out for the welfare of those under their command, their most sacred duty, the military leadership simply folded under political pressure.
Personally, I thought it was about as bad as it could get. Finally, the magnificent armed forces of America had hit rock bottom and the only way left was to go up, because we could not possibly sink any lower. Political correctness had taken an enormous toll but there was still a glimmer of hope. Perhaps, with a miracle, we could still recover and find the courage to somehow pull out of this spiraling death dive.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. This past Friday, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, was interviewed at a conference at Harvard University. He was asked to name the most serious national security threat to the U.S. in the Pacific. The question was appropriate, serious, and required a serious, thoughtful response. After all, his area of responsibility stretches from San Diego to India and he could have listed a lot of real threats, such as China. Or he could have addressed the very real threat of North Korea’s long range missiles capable of reaching California, or the threat this regime poses to out ally, South Korea.
Either of these topics could have earned the top spot, but neither did. Instead, the good Admiral chose global warming as the greatest threat to us in the Pacific. That’s right. And you read it right. Our senior military commander in the Pacific is on record as listing global warming as a clear and present danger there, greater that, China, greater than North Korea, greater than anything.
In a different era, not so long ago, such a statement would have served as the basis to quietly remove this officer from his post and replace him. The U.S. Navy does this routinely when a commander proves to be unable to command. That’s how the system is supposed to work and it has worked extremely well for over two hundred years. However, we are in a far different era now, and outrageous claims such as this will be accepted as fact, regardless of the facts. This is what happens when political correctness overwhelms common sense.
How could it possibly come to this? That’s a very good question and it deserves a serious answer. Is it possible that this man spent too much time with Al Gore? Did he think such a claim would endear him to the highest levels of the administration? Or does he honestly believe he is right when he says such things? I have no idea because I do not know this man and I do not know what’s in his heart. However, I do know that he is not paid to wage war on global warming, no matter how real or unreal he may think it to be. His job is to fight and win the nation’s wars against real enemies, not the environment. As a private citizen, I defend his right to believe whatever appears in his mind. As a senior military commander with a serious mission, I have a right to expect a bit more. Unfortunately, I’m not going to get it and I truly grieve for the nation. This should serve as a shot across the bow for all of us.
About the Author
Lieutenant Colonel John Lewis Cook, United States Army (Retired), “served as the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Interior in Kabul, Afghanistan, with responsibility for developing the force structure for the entire Afghan National Police. As of 2012, this force totals 157,000. From March 2008 until August 2012, his access and intimate associations with all levels of the Afghan government and coalition forces have provided him with an unprecedented insight into the policies which will determine the outcome of the war. It is this insight, coupled with his contacts and associations throughout Afghanistan that form the basis of Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure.
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