"Yes, Marcus. Your Friends Died In Vain"
At Foreign Policy, former military intelligence officer Jim Gourley responds to this comment by former Navy SEAL and Lone Survivor author Marcus Luttrell to Jake Tapper:
"We spend our whole lives training to defend this country, and then we were sent over there by this country, and you're telling me because we were over there doing what we were told by our country that it was senseless and my guys died for nothing?"
Yes, Marcus. Your friends died in vain. They went selflessly. They fought bravely. They sacrificed nobly. They lived in the best traditions of duty, honor, and country -- hallowed words which dictate what every American can and ought to be. But they died in vain for the exact reason that they went where their country sent them and did what their country told them to do. America failed you because it failed its obligation to those principles. It gives me no pleasure to write these words, because it applies as much to the friends I lost as it does to yours. But it needs to be said, because the sooner we acknowledge it as a country, the more lives we might save.
As I write this, America is two weeks into its 13th and presumably last year of war in Afghanistan. Already, two servicemembers have been reported killed there. The strategic outlook after our withdrawal is not optimistic. Indeed, current events forebode a harsh future for Afghanistan. We are only two years removed from our withdrawal from Iraq and the al Qaeda flag flies over the city of Fallujah, in which more than 120 American servicemembers died. The ultimate failure of American military might to secure Fallujah does nothing to diminish the honorable nature of their service. But likewise, all their gallantry cannot change the fact that they died for an unfulfilled cause. The honor is theirs alone. The disgrace belongs to America.
It's the disgrace of a country that abandoned its civic duty to execute due diligence in weighing the decisions of whether and how to go to war, and then later to hold accountable those that spent precious blood and vast treasure for meager gains. All the while, we convinced ourselves that we were supporting our fighting forces simply by saying that we were. We even made bumper stickers to prove it, never considering what it said about us to wear our hearts next to our exhaust pipes.
The sentiment of upholding the bravery of the fallen to hide the shame of our culpability has been echoed more eloquently but no less cowardice by our national leaders.