There are so many concurrent events happening in the last few days and months that they are leaving me in a complete state of shock and bewilderment. I am having a very difficult time trying to understand if this is the nation I grew up in or am I in some weird time warp where everything I understood to be true has been reversed. Am I in the real world or has the real world disappeared and I have been dropped off in some alien world where all my culture, history, beliefs and morals have been diametrically changed? Should I believe what my leaders and the usual sources of news are conveying to me or should I ignore them all because their credibility has been completely shot by their lack of integrity and honesty? With that in mind I would like to take a short journey into this upsidedown world in which we seem to be living: • COVID-19, the whiplash event of the last year and one half. It seems everything we are told or instructed to do goes from one extreme to another, whether it is mask wearing, vaccinations, quarantining or not to quarantining, how many shots we need to be protected, is natural immunity present if you have been exposed and recovered from the virus or not, should small children be forced to wear masks or what if anything should we do with any of the other “scientific” explanations we have been given? A reasonable person has to scratch his or her head and ask, “What is going on and when will we escape this insanity?” How can we follow any leaders who don’t know what they are doing and whose reactions are based primarily on politics? • Afghanistan, here is a very unsettling situation. We have fought a 20-year war against a primitive group of religious fanatics who never got the message that we are the greatest military in the world with the capability to crush them like a bug. There are two things that disturb me about Afghanistan. Why didn’t we send them a message at the very outset of the war to convince them that fighting us was going to result in their destruction, and why are we leaving billions of dollars worth of military hardware and infrastructure behind for their use against us in the future? Clausewitz, a German military theorist of the 1800s, is said to be the father of modern military theory. One of his theories, if not his most important one, was that if you fight a war, you must fight total war with every weapon available to you until the enemy surrenders unconditionally. Ulysses S. Grant adopted this theory in our Civil War, and we have used it in our following wars until Korea, when our politicians took over the day-to-day running of a war. Our following failures — Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan — are a testament to what happens when you do not convince your enemy that you are not only willing but prepared to destroy them, using whatever weapons you can bring to bear against them, including but not limited to nuclear munitions. Think of how the Taliban would have reacted if we told them on Sept. 12, 2001, that we were prepared to nuke them on Sept. 13, 2001, if they did not surrender to our forces? And, if they did not surrender we would have nuked them? What they saw instead was a haphazard attack where they could give up ground and keep us fighting until we grew weary of the war and packed up, like the Russians before us, and went home. Interesting thought! The other disturbing thing about Afghanistan is why we are leaving behind billions upon billions of dollars worth of military hardware and infrastructure? Another of Clausewitz’s theories was to never leave anything behind if you are retreating that the enemy can use against you. Exactly how stupid is it to leave all that hardware behind, knowing that the Taliban would overrun the country? Failures like these are why we are losing respect throughout the world, especially in third-world countries. It reminds me of the old movie “The Mouse That Roared,” where a small, haphazard group attacked the United States so that they could gain wealth and prestige after surrendering. When our government and especially our military becomes a reflection of a comedy, then we may really be in trouble. The reason we either lost or ceased fighting or came to a draw since World War II has been our unwillingness to fight to defeat our enemies, and our enemies have known this. We have allowed our politicians and the media to overshadow the military. The military is designed and capable of destroying any opponent that chooses to test our strength. What we do lack is the will to truly defeat our enemies, using every tool available to us. We will never win another war until we come to the realization that our enemies must feel total defeat, just like the Germans and Japanese suffered at the end of World War II, and any general who has ever studied warfare will tell you that. There was no reason for the events of the past few days to have occurred if our leaders had done their jobs. The administration is in hiding, the military is fumbling the evacuation, the intelligence community went AWOL leading up to this comedy of errors and the media is lost because their hero dropped the ball and they can’t sugarcoat his lack of leadership. It’s a mess, but the United States has always up righted itself after setbacks, and I can only hope and pray that we get through this disaster without the loss of the lives of the people who were left behind in Afghanistan. • This nonsense of Critical Race Theory that has crept into our society and will eventually eat it from the inside out. For most of the last 60 years, we as a nation have taken every opportunity to lift up our minorities ,whether through quotas in education and the workplace or through social programs designed to help minorities. But in the last two or three years, we have become obsessed, through our politicians and media, with the idea that white people are inherently evil. The other day, an 8-year-old boy was visiting us, and school subjects came up. I asked him what his favorite subject was, and he replied history. Of course, this perked my interest, because I have been a student of history my entire life. I then asked him what it was about history that he liked, and his answer set me back on my heels. “Black Lives Matter” was the focus of his interest in American history. He had a very basic misunderstanding of American history, but this was what he was being taught in our local schools. He wasn’t the only child whom I have talked to recently who had no real understanding of American or European history. My 16-year-old grandson also left me scratching my head with his complete lack of knowledge concerning history. We were talking about Christopher Columbus, and he thought Columbus was evil because he brought slaves to the our colonies. I asked him where he got that information, and he said his teacher said that in class. I can see how a ridiculous theory like Critical Race Theory has taken hold in our schools and is spilling over into our culture. This is a case that defies logic; why and how is it spreading? I don’t understand, but I do know what its outcome will be if it is not checked. We will devolve into a splintered society without any form of unity; we will evolve into groups that will eventually have to openly fight each other. That, in my opinion, will lead to disaster. I see values that have kept this country in good steed since its inception falling apart and going by the wayside. The nuclear family is disappearing in some parts of our society and spreading throughout the rest of society. Religion is thought to be a weakness to which we should not pay attention, but adapt our religious beliefs to the current politically correct notions. I watch as we are dumbing down every aspect of our society with the misplaced idea that by doing so, we are lifting a portion of society up. You can not nor will you ever lift a portion of society up by lowering the rest of society to its level; instead, you have to find a way to raise the lower level through good, honest and thoughtful education. In all these matters, I am struck by the lack of leadership in the highest levels of government. Recently, we have witnessed the defeat in Afghanistan; the inability to get people out of Afghanistan; the complete chaos in the governments response to the collapse of the Afhgan government and military. While all these events are unfolding, the president is in hiding along with the most senior members and advisers to the administration. When the president comes back from Camp David or Wilmington and gives a speech, sometimes unrelated to the crisis unfolding in front of him, it begs for an answer. Do we allow our military to fight total wars or do we continue to handcuff them? Until we are willing to turn the military loose when we decide to use the military, we will never do any better in the future then we have in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan. I believe Clausewitz was correct in his thinking about how to fight a war and bring that war to your enemy: defeat your enemy by whatever means you have and convince them that they do not want to fight you ever again. Germany and Japan are fine examples of how you defeat an enemy and turn them from an adversary to an ally. We can clearly see what happens when we ignore that theory. Logic and common sense seem to be in very short supply today in our institutions, whether it’s media, government, religion, public discourse or education that are failing us — and there will be logical outcomes for these failures. My question then becomes: Are we willing to upend our society chasing less-than-workable answers to our societal issues, or do we want to strive for logical outcomes while maintaining our societal greatness? I am not sure it’s possible to do both, but we are getting very close to the point where we have to make those decisions.
BERNARD LESLIE is a beekeeping expert who lives beside Kentucky Lake in the northeast corner of Henry County. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.