Remember this name: Daniel Metcalfe.
He’s from Liverpool, N.Y.
He was a 29-year-old Army sergeant first class, who enlisted in the military at age 18. He was serving in the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy.
His father, Tom, drove to Dover Air Base to meet his son’s remains last week.
Metcalfe, you see, was killed on Sept. 29 in Afghanistan, the victim of small arms fire that was originally reported as yet another case of “insider” aggression — murder at the hands of the very people our military is training to take over, so our fighting men and women can come home.
Metcalfe’s name is important because, like all soldiers who die for our country, he made the ultimate sacrifice. But, Metcalfe also has the distinction of being the 2,000th service member to die in Afghanistan.
His blood should be the last drop of American blood spilled for this Godforsaken war.
Eleven years. That’s how long Metcalfe has been a soldier. It’s also how long the United States and its NATO allies have been waging war in Afghanistan.
Eleven years and nothing but 2,000 dead soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen to show for it. The civilian deaths? Countless. The Taliban? The insurgents? Who cares. (Apparently not enough have been killed to spell victory.)
Like any proud soldier’s father, Tom, when asked by a local television crew for his reaction to his son’s death, said simply. “He was proud to serve his country.”
He added, ”I hated to lose him, knew that was always a possibility, but he was a good man.”
The American people need to speak for Tom and tell our leaders — no, demand of them — that the war in Afghanistan is not winnable by any satisfactory metric and it is time to bring our troops home. Today.
No way should the American people any longer fight and die for a country where the populace is so hostile to our good intentions, where even the country’s leader, Hamid Karzai, says the war is lost, even going as far as to suggest less than 24 hours ago that the West is conducting a “psychological warfare” campaign to weaken Afghanistan ahead of a NATO pullout.
Then there’s the insider jobs. On CBS’ “60 Minutes” last Sunday, Gen. John Allen, the senior combat leader in Afghanistan, said that he is “mad as hell” about them. “We’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it,” he said.
Damn right. He went on to describe insider attacks as potentially the Afghan Taliban’s version of the “IED,” a deadly strategy to take away America’s technological advantage. It’s genius and diabolical at the same time.
While cutting and running — as the former commander and chief who started the country down this costly road used to say — stinks, so does losing precious military resources and spilling precious blood for such a screwed up misadventure as the Afghanistan campaign.
Simply put, that conflict is unwinnable by any historical standard, and maybe by leaving before losing 2,001 soldiers is winning by Afghanistan standards. Either way, it’s time to go.
Why this war isn’t a central issue in the 2012 election is baffling — perhaps it’s because 11 years of war have anesthetized the American people. Whatever, all the more reason to end it now. One more American death is too high a price to pay.
WEDNESDAY’S PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
Like pundits everywhere, I too found myself falling under the spell of that dashing GOP messiah Willard Mitt Romney Wednesday night.
In truth, I thought the Republican presidential candidate did a fine job against President Obama. It actually made me quite proud that the debate wasn’t a one-sided affair after all.
I think the president’s logical, professorial debate style may have failed to connect with some voters — he didn’t deliver any “I knew Jack Kennedy, sir, and you are no Jack Kennedy” zingers and didn’t mention Romney’s 42-percent comment at all, which is surprising given all the media attention it garnered.
Still, I though Obama’s arguments held much more substance than Romney’s, though the GOP candidate certainly showed more energy and assertiveness, something that really could give him a much-needed boost down the home stretch.
The upcoming debate between Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, and Joe Biden, the vice president, should feature more zingers. Unfortunately for Democrats, Biden has a penchant for sticking his foot in his mouth. If Ryan plays it smart, he too could come out a winner, which again would give the Romney-Ryan ticket a much-needed boost going into the home stretch.
After that, Romney and the president are going to square off again, this time on foreign policy. Romney, despite his gaffe in London and potential to be misled by neo-cons in his own party who will push us into a third or even fourth military confrontation in the Middle East (Iran and Syria this time) if he’s elected, could again pound the president. The assassination of Libya’s U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens last month is a major foreign policy black eye for Obama — it almost entirely erases the good that was done in Libya when Muammar Qaddafi was toppled. Mexico is in chaos and almost nothing, publicly at least, is being done by the U.S. government about it. The Arab Spring has turned into a scorching Indian Summer as Egypt, Syria, Yemen and other parts of the Arab world are at a dangerous crossroads.
If there were one aspect of Obama’s presidency that Romney could easily attack for advantage it is the Democrat’s foreign policy failures — not to mention the huge one I just wrote about upstairs. Even the U.S. Iraq policy is one big pile dog poo. Iraq remains a much-too fragile state. While I’m glad most American troops are gone, I hardly consider the situation to be a feather in America’s cap. Ultimately, Obama shares some of the blame for that with his predecessor.
In the last debate, the candidates will return to homegrown issues. Obama will likely need to have a little more fire in his belly. The president is right on when he says he has kept his promise to the American middle class — recall the final days of the Bush Administration, bank failures, massive job losses, a critical tipping point in the global economic system. The country could have slipped easily into a depression. As bad as things still are, President Obama should indeed be given credit for helping make sure things didn’t get worse, particularly for the middle class, where the American Dream really does still mean something. He needs to hammer that point home.
Electing Romney and the middle class might as well put a gun in its mouth — the trickle down BS that every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan has touted is just what I called it, BS. If you really think a small government, few taxes economic system works, take a look around at the good ol’ Battle Born state of Nevada — low taxes, stingy public finances and small government, and we’re dead last in everything that means anything to anybody who doesn’t have a million dollar marker, a suite at the Wynn and a plane ticket out of this place.