Jake Tapper, the host of CNN’s “The Lead,” is getting blasted after interviewing former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell Friday night.
The interview was about the new movie, “Lone Survivor,” which portrays a failed SEAL mission in Afghanistan.
Reflecting on his thoughts while watching the film and the sense of “hopelessness” he felt it portrayed, Tapper said, “I was torn about the message of the film in the same way that I think I am about the war in Afghanistan itself. I don’t want any more senseless American death. And at the same time I know that there were bad people there and good people that need help.”
The overall interview didn’t go so well. Watch below (the exchange starts around 3:00 mark):
If you look at Tapper’s Twitter stream or look at comments on articles about this right now, you will see that they’re filled with venom:
“Jake Tapper was about 3 seconds from getting his throat caved in.”
“They didn’t die for nothing .. they died fighting the A-HOLES who killed 3000+ on 9-11 !!”
I watched “Lone Survivor” last night. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it (you should), but it tells the story of four Navy SEALs being attacked by a bigger force, being shot multiple times, and falling down a mountain. This did seem like a hopeless ordeal to me when I saw it on screen.
These SEALs were all heroes, there’s no question about that. But reflecting on the larger picture surrounding this particular mission, Operation: Red Wings, and the broader war in Afghanistan, shouldn’t be taboo.
As Ed Darack, the author of the book “Victory Point,” wrote for the Marine Corps Gazette:
RED WINGS was an incredible tragedy for the families, friends, and associates of those lost. From a tactical / operational standpoint, and from an analysis of its influence on furthering security in the region (the operation’s purpose), the opening phase of RED WINGS was an unmitigated monumental disaster — one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in recent military history. Because so many resources were pushed to aid the recovery effort (the search and recovery was called RED WINGS II), other planned operations (not just in that part of the AO, but throughout Afghanistan), had to be delayed and many cancelled altogether. Ahmad Shah, a once unknown local Taliban aspirant, gained instant global fame and saw his ranks, finances, and armaments (including those taken from the SEALs) burgeon, enabling him to renew his attacks with greater intensity and frequency.
But here’s what’s really senseless: Attacking Jake Tapper for asking a question that I ask myself every time I receive an email notification from the Department of Defence that another service member has died in Afghanistan.
Namely: Why are Americans still fighting (and dying) there?
“The Department of Defence announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom,” the emails all begin, followed by the name, rank, age, hometown, and terse statement of how they died.
My first thoughts when I get these are of sadness for the family. My second thought is always, What are we still doing there?
I was a U.S. Marine on the ground in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2005, so I know firsthand what it’s like. I know Americans who have been killed. So, do I get a pass in asking these questions? Is it alright for me to ask this question, because I was there and Jake Tapper wasn’t?
“You don’t have to be a veteran to judge whether or not the war is or was worth it,” tweets former Army officer Andrew Exum.
It’s time we have an adult non-screaming-at-each-other conversation about what we want to accomplish in Afghanistan, as well as an objective assessment of whether we are succeeding. If you look at Iraq right now — Fallujah specifically — there are plenty of veterans wondering if their losses there were all for nothing.
“Just because they gave their lives for something pointless and political, does not mean we honour them less by saying so,” tweets “Gary Owen,” a former Army infantry and civil affairs officer, now a civilian contractor in Afghanistan since 2009.
The Blaze’s takedown of Jake Tapper, writes Army veteran Alex Horton on Twitter, “reveals the unhealthy bits of hero worship standing in for policy.”
It’s 2014 and this year is supposed to be the last of what will very likely be looked back on as a complete disaster in Afghanistan.
“Down to the lowest soldier, there is a very palpable sense that everything we’ve done is too little, too late,” one Army officer told me in 2012 after the pullout date was announced.
Here’s the truth: The U.S. military is no longer in Afghanistan to win anything. It’s just there.
We should always remember and cherish the lives lost, but we do a disservice to their memory — and today’s troops — by not asking the tough questions.
“No matter where you come down on the war in Afghanistan, if you’ve never questioned whether it’s worth it,” Exum wrote on Twitter. “You’re not thinking critically.”
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