Mazzuca: The world watches
The name Shakil Afridi won’t resonate with most Americans, but perhaps it should, because I believe his story is illustrative of the mindset that appears to have taken hold in our nation’s capital.
Afridi was the Pakistani physician who helped the CIA run its fake hepatitis vaccine program in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011— a program that helped confirm Osama bin Laden’s presence by obtaining a sample of the terrorist’s DNA. Just days after the bin Laden raid, Afridi was arrested while trying to flee the country and sentenced to 33 years in solitary confinement. In appreciation for helping the U.S. take down the world’s No. 1 terrorist, the Obama administration left Afridi to rot in a Pakistani prison.
Dr. Afridi is now 59 and remains locked in a squalid cell in Pakistan’s Punjab province, a scapegoat for the Pakistani authorities who denied knowledge of bin Laden’s presence in their country. His health and sanity are slowly slipping away as we go on with our daily lives oblivious to Afridi’s suffering. The former Pakistani ambassador to Washington said: “He is being kept in prison now only to teach every Pakistani a lesson not to cooperate with a Western intelligence agency.”
Joe Biden, who was opposed to the bin Laden raid without more information confirming his location, was vice president at the time, so leaving those behind who’ve helped us in the war on terror is nothing new to this president. His mentor, Barrack Obama, was not only responsible for failing to get Dr. Afridi and his family safely out of Pakistan, but his administration also oversaw the Benghazi fiasco that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans to be brutally murdered by Islamists.
The Benghazi story defines the term “political spin,” but ask yourself, if President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had done all they could to rescue Stevens and the other Americans, why was it necessary for the president to lie at the United Nations, telling the assemblage the attack was caused by an inflammatory internet video, while his national security adviser, Susan Rice, promoted the same canard on every Sunday morning news show?
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As VP, Joe Biden had to be aware, if not complicit, in making those fateful decisions. Which brings us to Afghanistan, where recent events indicate that this president has also jettisoned the “Leave No Man Behind” creed that once underpinned our national code of honor.
I was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and certain missions exposed us to an element of danger. But we flew those missions with full knowledge that if shot down, someone would come rescue us. And while this is purely anecdotal, every pilot I knew had complete confidence that regardless of the tactical situation, the Marine Corps would never leave one of us behind. In fact, the nastiest mission I ever took part in was to rescue a solitary Marine running from NVA soldiers in the middle of the night, after his recon team had been ambushed and wiped out.
So, vis-à-vis, after what we witnessed in Afghanistan, it’s fair to ask, what ever became of never leaving anyone behind? And when did American leadership become so cavalier about abandoning those who served us?
I can’t answer those questions, but I can offer a very telling example how loyalty to our allies is embraced by this administration. In 2008, an Afghan interpreter helped rescue then-Sen. Biden and two other senators stranded in a remote Afghanistan valley after their helicopter was forced down during a snowstorm. Yet this interpreter and his four children remain in Afghanistan fearing for their lives along with thousands of other Afghan allies the Biden administration left behind.
The manner we exited Afghanistan will haunt this nation for years — perhaps decades. Even our allies are aghast, the Germans calling it “It is the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding,” while other leaders have denounced Biden’s actions as a “catastrophe“ and a “debacle.” But this should surprise no one considering the president’s experience in these matters.
Like many others, I believe the stain on America’s reputation will endure for years and will hinder the recruitment of allies in the future. The knowledge that an organized force will go to any lengths to rescue a fighting man or woman is critical to the morale of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines; and it should be no different for any Americans or ally we’ve placed in harm’s way. This administration didn’t abandon people in Afghanistan — it abandoned American honor, integrity, and leadership.
Quote of the day: “You can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved yourself into.” — Steven Covey
Follow Butch Mazzuca on his blog at ButchMazzuca.com.