This past week has left me wondering where our political leadership has gone to. From either side of the aisle, I have not seen anything resembling leadership. As a country, we are suffering from the recent defeat in Afghanistan (a defeat that should never have happened), natural disasters, the West’s wildfires, and storm damage from hurricane Ida from the Gulf Coast through New England. While all these events are unfolding, Congress is trying to focus on two very expensive bills instead of finding out what happened in Afghanistan and why we left behind American citizens, allies we depended on from the start of the war 20 years ago and the wealth of military hardware we left for our enemy. Congress has become so wrapped up in their varying ideologies and finger-pointing. They are more interested in blaming either this administration or the former one, that they are paralyzed from doing anything really meaningful. Instead, they are once again spouting platitudes that have little, if anything, to do with the crisis we are facing. I am tired of all the fingerpointing and back-stabbing that has become the hallmark of politicians at every level. Both parties are showing that they are incapable of ruling the country because they have lost sight of their primary duty: taking care of the country that the citizens have entrusted to them. I am sickened by the lies coming from both sides of the aisle: President Joe Biden did this or that, or former President Donald Trump did this or that. What happened to the welfare of the country? There is enough blame to go around for the fiasco in Afghanistan at every level of the hierarchy of the civilian or military leadership. We lost a war to a bunch of backward tribes from a thirdor fourth-rate country. I blame the politicians from 2001 until today for creating the circumstances that led to our defeat. They approached the war (and all wars since World War II) with the idea that you can ask the military to fight with one, if not both, hands tied behind their back and expect victory. Why do we have a military if we do not allow them to fight wars to victory? Why when politicians turn the military loose do they then micromanage the war? Why must we always be restrained when victory can be achieved ? Throughout history, whenever politicians interfere with the military’s mission, defeat has followed, whether that was Truman, Johnson, Bush, Obama Trump or Biden. They all placed unreasonable restraints on the military and, as a result, defeat has been snatched from victory. Not only has Biden screwed up our exit from Afghanistan, but also every president since the start of the war bears some responsibility for what has unfolded these past few weeks. If we have a fundamental error in our thinking when it comes to war, it is we ask the military to do something that by definition the military can not do, and that is to be restrained once turned loose on an enemy. We can scratch our heads until we bleed looking for an answer as to why we continue to come up on the short end of the stick when we deploy our armed forces, especially how a third-rate tribal country can beat us. They can’t; we defeated ourselves in Afghanistan by ignoring a basic premises of warfare: beat your enemy with everything you have to bring them down and defeat him at every turn. The Taliban and Afghans throughout history have understood this, and that’s how a third-rate tribal country can defeat every empire since Alexander the Great. The Taliban knew from the beginning of the war that the odds of them winning rested on how much our politicians restrained our military. They learned early in the war that our armed forces had the capability to drive them out of Afghanistan into Pakistan. Then our political leadership put the brakes on the military by preventing them from following the Taliban into Pakistan and destroying them. If Pakistan harbored the Taliban, then Pakistan was our enemy and should have been treated that way. The fumbling, inept withdrawal from Afghanistan is not surprising when you look back over the last 20 years and see how many times we fumbled and how inept our political leadership has been throughout the course of the war. Our current military leadership bears some responsibility for the fiasco that unfolded over the last few weeks, and they should be held responsible for their missteps. I have never seen our military so politically motivated as they have been in the last five years. Generals should never voice their political viewpoints; they should approach their jobs concentrating on their duty. The paths of military leadership and politics should never cross. But in the past five years, repeatedly generals have placed themselves into the political arena. The lasting effect of these events is the loss of faith in the military, because it corrupts the military’s position in society. Like everything else confronting the country, our politicians are not only at odds with each other, but also they all are hypocritical to the point where it is hard to put much faith in any of them. Former hawks are now doves and former doves are now hawks. How do our politicians believe they are trusted when they cannot stick to any position? Flip-flopping is the world where they live. Today, positions taken yesterday are now 180 degrees from then. It doesn’t matter whether you discussing civil rights, women’s rights or any of the other issues dividing us. They also create issues which may not be issues at all; or issues that may be out of their, or our, control. And when the (mess) hits the fan, they make sure they don’t get any of it on themselves. I have been so disappointed in Biden for making speeches and then completely refusing to take questions from the press unless they are scripted questions and prepared answers. If any president wanted to lose the faith of the citizenry, then do what Biden is doing. Ignore the people and their questions, then you will suffer the consequences. Every failed government, kingdom or empire failed when the leadership failed its people. Our current crop of leaders are failing us and, unfortunately, the country will pay the price for their failures. Everywhere we look there is a vacuum of leadership. Science tells us that vacuums have to be filled by something. If our leaders believe they can leave us in a vacuum free from their leadership, then they are ignoring the fact that something will fill that political vacuum. Isn’t it time our leaders on both sides of the aisle come to grips with what is occurring in front of them and openly, honestly find answers to the events that are slowly devouring this great country? Isn’t it time for sincere reflections from our political class and putting aside the craziness that they are perpetuating on us? Isn’t it time to take a realistic evaluation of what we are doing wrong when we deploy the armed forces and why we restrain them when we deploy them? Isn’t it time that our politicians do some self-reflection and take a careful look at what they are doing to the country? Isn’t it time to start honest and open discussions about all the divisive issues dividing us? Isn’t it time to set aside all the petty issues and find reasonable answers for reasonable questions? Isn’t it time to stop the inconsequential bickering about issues we have little or no control over and look for answers that are workable? Isn’t it time to end the insanity like CRT, or this or that group’s petty problems, or how we are responsible for things that only nature (or, if you like, God) has control over? I am an old, tired man who cannot understand the complete insanity our political arena has become. What has happened to the “We can do anything we put our minds to” attitude that had propelled this nation to the greatness it has experienced? What happened to our rich history that made us the envy of the world? Why are we so dead set, ready to destroy ourselves for some pie in the sky Utopia that has never been in reach of any nation or people? Why are we overlooking the fact that no nation or people is perfect, but our nation, unlike others in history, has and is working for a more perfect union? Why have we lost the ideal of union? Why do we concentrate on all things that divides us? I sometimes feel we are on the path of national suicide and for some reason we cannot see the cliff in front of us. It seems we are hellbent on leaping off that cliff. We will not see the cliff until we are half way to the inevitable sudden stop at the end of our fall. History is rich with nations that have failed because they failed to see the obvious and instead looked away from the obvious until it was too late. The United States is at such a point, and I worry that we are so blinded by politics that we will not be able to recognize the peril facing us. Isn’t it time for our political leaders to come back to the real world and deal with our real-world problems? Are our politicians in the real world? I think they have left the real world and are in some alternate universe where real problems are ignored and fantasy problems are dwelled on with the hope that diversion and divisiveness can distract us from their failings.

BERNARD LESLIE is a beekeeping expert who lives beside Kentucky Lake in the northeast corner of Henry County. His email address is bleslie0515@gmail.com.

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