Editor’s note: Article originally published at El Confidencial and translated into English for SOFREP.
Thursday night was one of the longest ones. Regardless of it being Thursday or close to Christmas, last night was The Longest Night for democrats and republicans. For more than 15 hours they’d been locked up inside the House Judiciary Committee, where the impeachment vote, for the charges against president Trump, was being deliberated.
The once well-groomed people had ended up with those tired eyes and strained faces so typical of never-ending hours in front of the cameras, paperwork, counsellors and a whole nation. There was an astonishing and endless sentimental rhetoric and references to practically all past U.S. presidents from Washington to Obama. A congresswoman, who had been weeping since the process began, had mentioned God several time in the way that a television preacher might do, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders as a personal envoy of the Almighty.
At 11:20 on Thursday night, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, took the wooden gravel and hit the block with a heavy thud that meant “Let’s get on with it, I can’t stand it any longer.” Many times, the camera’s prying eye caught him huffing and puffing, looking left and right as if he were the only one who had realized that the dice had been cast. Many thought the Republicans wouldn’t get tangled up in amendments, since the “Christmas drink” was waiting at the White House. However, Nadler put an end to the filibustering of the republicans with one stroke. With a somber look on his face he postponed the session until yesterday, Friday morning at 10:00. Democrats breathed a sigh of relief.
Deep passions normally ruffle and make me uncomfortable; but I must confess to gobbling down a whole popcorn bucket while following the summons. Actually, this whole campaign, in addition to talking about the formal accusations and Ukraine, has managed to generate debate about a string of problems that this country has for a long time been facing. Perhaps without realizing it, everyone and their mother, points the finger at Donald Trump. But in effect, they are mentioning each and every policy war for which both parties have been and still are responsible.
Immigration, which has been the Achilles heel of this country for too long, has been discussed at length lately and also used as a weapon against the Republican administration — so have gun control, trade, China and Afghanistan.
The problem with invoking a sense of history, and consequently a sense of one’s own identity in delicate situations such as this, is that once Pandora’s box is open there is no one gutsy enough to close it.
Last Tuesday, the ‘Washington Post’ launched a scoop: a report of more than 2,000 pages and 400 interviews with people who played an important role in the war in Afghanistan. In being interviewed, these people assumed that they would remain unidentified by he Pentagon. Finally, their names were revealed and the chickens came home to roost.
The report, which was undertaken in 2014, was baptized “Lessons learned.” The initial plan was to take into account the pros and cons of military conflicts by involving the main players in the process. The overarching aim was to be able to plan outcomes in a successful way, as if this were possible — which I’ve always doubted.
These leaks and the journalistic research jobs are always a pain in the neck. One might end up like Douglas Lute, who was the most senior military in the White House from Bush to Obama, and wonder if the American people suspect the truth behind more the conflict’s more than 2,400 deaths. Bending the truth behind closed curtains to afterwards, in front of the cameras, come up with a perfect “war” of good versus evil that backed by a spotless military strategy. Nothing could have been farther from the truth.
After reading the information, I called and agreed to meet Brandon Webb, former Navy SEAL and sniper in the U.S. Navy, who fought in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. Webb is the Founder and CEO of Hurricane Group Inc.; he is also a media commentator on military affairs; and a New York Times bestselling author, with twelve books under his belt, one of which, “The Red Circle,” is truly shocking.
You may wonder how does one start a conversation with someone who has risked his neck in Afghanistan, if you want to ask him whether he believes his superiors understood or had any idea of what they were doing. This is what he told me:
“I was deployed with SEAL Team 3 immediately after September 11, 2001. We were to destroy the terrorist training camps, and capture or eliminate the “bad guys.” We did so to a great extent from 2001 to 2003 and then we should have left. One of the reasons I left my military career after 13 years was because I saw through the American political leaders and realized they had no idea of the direction our foreign policy was taking. I still remember the expression of surprise on people’s faces when, in the middle of a private dinner for senior Defense executives, I asked the former Air Force general advisor, Mary Walker, what was the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and she responded very honestly: ‘I don’t know.’
And then, my question was obvious: “Are you surprised by the recent documents published in the ‘Washington Post’?”. “No. Not in the least. What I don’t quite understand is why people have taken so long to start paying attention after all the wasted lives and billions of taxpayers’ dollars. It’s the Vietnam of my generation, with perhaps a slightly better homecoming”.
These are questions for which one doesn’t want to hear the answer. Looking into the face of someone, who has experienced extreme fear and suffering, you realize how the power of politics and sterile debates destroys life after life with little consequence. America has been lagging behind for too long. Now there is no turning back.
Guest author Luján Artola (Spain, 1974) is a journalist. She began her professional career at COPE broadcasting corporation in 1997. After several years dedicated as a PR at Telefónica Company, there followed six years at NH Hoteles Company, of which two spent as chief of press for the United States and Latin America. She has been Director of Communication at the Center for Political and Constitutional Studies (Ministry of Presidency) and for two years she has worked as a contributor on RTVE, Tele 5, TRECE TV and The Objective, as well as being responsible for communication in several foundations. Go back to Manhattan with El Confidencial to scrutinize that great and convulsive bonfire of vanities that they call the Big Apple.