December 13, 2009
Home Field Advantage
“I think it’s a mistake to look at Afghanistan as sort of one eight-year war,” Mr. Gates responded in the same even tone he had used all week. “We had a war in 2001, 2002, which we essentially won. And the Taliban was kicked out of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was kicked out of Afghanistan, many of them killed. And then things were very quiet in Afghanistan.”
Without blaming President George W. Bush’s administration, which he once served, for sidelining the conflict in favor of Iraq, Mr. Gates said the second war in Afghanistan started in late 2005 and early 2006. “But the United States really has gotten its head into this conflict in Afghanistan, as far as I’m concerned, really only in the last year,” he said.
…God forbid I read this, and my son or daughter died in Afghanistan in one of those “off years.”
But then, Gates — finally home from a dismal “surge kick-off trip” to Afghanistan and Iraq — made up for it yesterday with a huge testosterone blast, conducting the coin toss before a crowd of 69,541 at, yep, Lincoln Financial Field in Philly at the annual Army-Navy game. Between the surge and the 110th annual pigskin rite — this adulatory orgy of battlefield and gridiron gladiators; this harmonic convergence of America’s two favorite past times, war and football — the Defense Secretary, feeding off the same good old adrenaline that fuels every warrior, looked drunk off the rush.
(photo: Tim Shaffer/Reuters)