When enemy action kills our troops, it's unfortunate. When our own moral fecklessness murders those in uniform, it's unforgivable.
In Afghanistan, our leaders are complicit in the death of each soldier, Marine or Navy corpsman who falls because politically correct rules of engagement shield our enemies.
Mission-focused, but morally oblivious, Gen. Stan McChrystal conformed to the Obama Way of War by imposing rules of engagement that could have been concocted by Code Pink:
* Unless our troops in combat are absolutely certain that no civilians are present, they're denied artillery or air support.
* If any civilians appear where we meet the Taliban, our troops are to "break contact" -- to retreat.
These ROE are a cave-in to the Taliban's shameless propaganda campaign that claimed innocents were massacred every time our aircraft appeared overhead. (Afghan President Mohammed Karzai and our establishment media backed the terrorists.)
The Taliban's goal was to level the playing field -- to deny our troops their technological edge. Our enemies more than succeeded.
And what has our concern for the lives of Taliban sympathizers accomplished? The Taliban now make damned sure that civilians are present whenever they conduct an ambush or operation.
So they attack -- and we quit the fight, lugging our dead and wounded back to base.
We've been through this b.s. before. In Iraq, we wanted to show respect to our enemies, so the generals announced early on that we wouldn't enter mosques. The result? Hundreds of mosques became terrorist safe houses, bomb factories and weapons caches.
Why is this so hard to figure out? We tell our enemies we won't attack X. So they exploit X. Who wouldn't?
It isn't just that war is hell. It's that war must be hell, otherwise why would the enemy ever quit?
This week's rumblings from the White House suggest that we may, at last, see a revised strategy that concentrates on killing our deadliest enemies -- but I'll believe it when I see the rounds go down-range.
Meanwhile, our troops die because our leaders are moral cowards.
Over the decades, political correctness insinuated itself into the ranks of our "Washington player" generals and admirals. We now have four-stars who believe that improving our enemies' self-esteem is a crucial wartime goal.
And the Army published its disastrous Counterinsurgency Manual a few years back -- doctrine written by military intellectuals who, instead of listening to Infantry squad leaders, made a show of consulting "peace advocates" and "humanitarian workers."
The result was a manual based on a few heavily edited case studies "proving" that the key to success in fighting terrorists is to hand out soccer balls to worm-eaten children. The doctrine ignored the brutal lessons of 3,000 years of history -- because history isn't politically correct (it shows, relentlessly, that the only effective way to fight faith-fueled insurgents is with fire and sword).
The New York Times lavished praise on the manual. What does that tell you?
A few senior officers continue to push me to "lay off" the Counterinsurgency Manual. Sorry, but I'm more concerned about supporting the youngest private on patrol than I am with the reputation of any general.
As a real general put it a century ago, "The purpose of an Army is to fight." And the purpose of going to war is to win (that dirty word). It's not to sacrifice our own troops to make sad-sack do-gooders back home feel good.
We need to recognize that true morality lies in backing our troops, not in letting them die for whacko theories.
The next time you read about the death of a soldier or Marine in Afghanistan, don't just blame the Taliban. Blame the generals and politicians who sent them to war, then took away their weapons.