Since I returned home, a darkness has grown in me as both I and our nation have failed to live up to the sacrifices of these young men and women. I had no expectation of “victory” in Afghanistan or Iraq, whatever that would mean. Nor did I expect some epiphany of strategic insight or remorse from the nation’s brain trust.
I just found that I could not square the negativity, pettiness and paranoia in the discourse of our country’s elders with the nobility and dedication of the men and women I had seen and served with in Afghanistan.
Over time, as I listened to the squabbling, I realized that about the only thing Americans agree on these days is gratitude bordering on reverence for our military. It troubled me that the sum total of consensus in our discourse is deference toward the defenders of our nation.
Eventually, it dawned on me that the focus on defense was the root of our problem.
Major Munson does not believe our best days happened weeks, months, or years ago. He believes — and I agree with him — that we are a clenched fist of defensiveness and anxiousness, waiting for any small reason to uncoil. When that happens, we will find that we are still quite capable of amazing accomplishments. We are not beaten. Not yet.