Untold Loss: Media Blackout on Military Disaster on Obama's Watch
Under the leadership of Barack H. Obama, though hardly noticed by the pro-Obama mainstream media, the U.S. Marine Corps has suffered its worst air squadron catastrophe since Vietnam, and its prized VMA-211 squadron has taken its worst hit since its defense of Wake Island in World War II.
It happened on September 14, 2012, northwest of the city of Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan. A team of fewer than two dozen Taliban fighters attacked the USMC's massive Camp Bastion base there, killing VMA-211 squadron commander Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and destroying or permanently disabling eight of the ten top-of-the-line harrier AV-8B attack aircraft stationed under him. Out of production for more than a decade, these aircraft can never be replaced.
By the time the smoke cleared, roughly 7% of the total harrier fleet operated by the USMC had been wiped out on a single day by a small force of ground combatants whose most potent weapon was the suicide vest, one of which was used to breach the camp's perimeter fence.
Under Obama, the U.S. has taken 1,491 casualties in Afghanistan, over 70% of the total 2,121 casualties sustained since the fighting there began. Helmland Province, where Camp Bastion is located, has been the grounds for the lion's share of them, twice as many as any other region of the country. Things have gotten so bad that, in the wake of the attack on Camp Bastion, the International Security Assistance Force, which trains Afghan citizens to defend their country against the Islamic fanatics of the Taliban, suspended operations.
Indeed, it seems that the only possible objective of the attack that was not achieved would be the assassination of Prince Harry, who was stationed at British-administered Camp Bastion as a helicopter pilot and who was planning to celebrate his birthday the following morning. It's believed that Harry was a collateral target of the attack.
Perhaps even more impressive than the raid's results is the sophisticated planning that must have been required to carry it out. How did this band of radicals even manage to approach a highly advanced multi-national military base without being detected, much less force their way inside en masse? How were they able to attack so quickly and efficiently that, even though nearly every one of them was killed in the effort, they were able to harm the mighty leathernecks more than they had been in half a century?
National Review has speculated that they may have had high-level advice from a national military force, most likely Pakistan, warning that the attack has "heralded a shrinkage of American power and influence in the region, demoralized our allies, and emboldened our enemies." Fevered and bloodthirsty anti-U.S. riots in Pakistan recently give considerable credence to this theory.
The attack was only one aspect, of course, of a recent wave of horrifying attacks on the United States by Islamic radicals, motivated purportedly by the display of an American-made film on YouTube that trashed them. With so many bold claims from the Obama administration about conciliation in the Middle East over the past four years, one might have hoped that its denizens could not be motivated to such bloodletting by the mere existence of an obscure internet movie with dubious ties to the U.S. But as with so many features of Obama's rule, his Middle East gambit has been exposed as total failure. Americans have seen their influence diminish considerably, but they have not reaped the benefits of the policies of appeasement Obama has followed -- namely, a reduction in poisonous bile directed at them by the fanatics.
The same must also be said of Obama's policy in Afghanistan. Despite his campaign promises, U.S. casualties have soared rather than falling, and the hand held by the Taliban has strengthened, not weakened. Obama said he would achieve disengagement with honor, but instead he has escalated the violence and carnage without improving our strategic position, and it is clear now that if the Taliban fighters can achieve victories like the one in Camp Bastion against the mighty alliance led by the U.S., then the feeble Afghan army has no chance against it and will surely descend into chaos if the U.S. leaves the field. Then we can expect the terrorist camps to spring right back, targeting the new tower rising over Ground Zero in New York City and many others besides.
And the same can be said of Obama's policy in Iraq. No less a friend of Obama's than the New York Times was forced to admit in a recent article that Obama has fallen "frustratingly short" on his withdrawal objectives in Iraq. He has failed to create a stable successor government, failed to establish security patrol oversight, and failed to establish a training program for Iraqi security forces. The NYT itself admits that the MSM has largely ignored these failures and that Obama has attempted to sweep them under the carpet. The NYT admits that Iraq is now "less stable domestically and less reliable internationally" than Obama promised it would be. And of course, Obama didn't keep his promise to have all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of last year, so the U.S. is getting the worst of all possible worlds.
Moreover, Obama's policy of appeasement towards Russia hasn't stopped the Putin dictatorship from continuing to side with our enemies throughout the Middle East. That's because Obama failed to understand the fundamental dichotomy of interests between Russia and the U.S. Russia wants discord in the Middle East, and the rising oil prices that result from it, so that Russian oil exports generate more cash. The U.S. wants peace in the Middle East and low oil prices. Obama's relaxed attitude toward Russia has only left Putin with a free hand to liquidate American friends and values in Russia (USAID was just kicked out of the country, a bone-crushing slight to Obama) while giving the U.S. nothing of value in return.
The upcoming presidential debates will give Mitt Romney the opportunity to hold Obama's feet to the fires burning because of his reckless and failed foreign policy. Obama's record abroad is just as disastrous as his economic record at home, but so far Romney has not done enough to make Americans confront Obama's record. He ought to ask Americans whether they are prepared to tolerate more disasters like the one in Lashkar Gah, to watch American power fade and American values be trampled along with our flag under the feet of those who wish us ill. He ought to offer them the chance to once again make America a great beacon light of hope for those who struggle against oppression around the world.