Wednesday, September 1, 2021

History Recalled and Constitutional Reform

No one, I suspect, is naive enough to believe our exit from Afghanistan would be met with universal appreciation free from politics. However, I would like to believe critics of Joe Biden would at least be historically accurate in their denunciations.


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday the loss of 13 {keep that number in mind} Americans in Kabul to a suicide bomber amidst the handling of the evacuation from Afghanistan was the “biggest failure of an American government on a military stage in my lifetime.”


Funny, I thought it was mandatory that all Republicans study the history of Ronald Reagan. Apparently, if true, the lessons do not include some of his less than conservative doctrinaire actions, such as raising taxes during five years of his presidency (1982, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987) to close budget deficits. 


Or, more to the point, Reagan’s decision in 1984 to abandon a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon after 241 {yikes, 241!!!} U.S. military personnel perished in an October 1983 suicide bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut. 


McCarthy is 56 year old, meaning he was 18 when the bombing occurred, 19 when Reagan bugged out of Lebanon without ever fulfilling his vow to deal justice to the perpetrators. 


According to the Office of the Historian of the Department of State: “Reagan’s decision to withdraw the Marines remains controversial. Supporters argue that it did not make sense to sacrifice American lives and resources to help resolve a conflict where the parties involved showed little interest in working toward U.S. goals. Critics, however, claim that Reagan failed to stand firm against terrorism and demonstrated that the United States was an undependable ally.” 


Sound familiar? 


It’s true—some Americans, 100-200, didn’t make it onto airlift planes. And many Afghans who helped us over the last 20 years didn’t, either. But more than 5,000 Americans, 100,000 Afghans and 15,000 other nationalities were part of the 120,000 evacuated in an unprecedented display of logistics and airmanship over 17 days. 


The process was not pretty. It capped America’s longest war—20 years. It implemented Donald Trump’s controversial exit agreement with the Taliban. 


American memories can be short. In 1975 we cringed at the sight of South Vietnamese clinging to U.S. helicopters lifting off from our Saigon embassy after North Vietnam and the Viet Cong emerged victorious. Today, Vietnam is a key trading partner with America as well as being a counterpoint to our economic conflict with China. 


Will Afghanistan someday be a trusted partner? 


McCarthy seems not only to be a poor student of history, he also apparently wants to rewrite or bury history. Specifically, he wants to keep potentially revealing information about the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol away from the House Select Committee investigating the assault on democracy. He has threatened to punish private companies if they cooperate with the Committee (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/01/mccarthy-threat-companies-jan-6-select-committee/). 


Having served in Congress since 2007, McCarthy has reached, or is about to qualify for, the tenured position of elected official that should be placed on a term limit list. I haven’t really been a big proponent of term limits, which would require a constitutional amendment to enact, but I would like to see the following ratified:


“Anyone who seeks federal elective or appointive office must have spent a minimum of two years in a full-time capacity for a public-service institution either as a teacher, fireman, policeman, emergency medical technician, Peace Corp or AmeriCorps volunteer, medical professional at a public hospital, or as a member of the U.S. military.”


The requirement would not solve the problem of incompetent officials, but it would increase the pool of leaders who have given to, more than just taken from, the public trough.  

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