Why Mel Laird is Worried About Afghanistan
British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives to give evidence at the Leveson inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, Thursday, June 14, 2012. The judge-led inquiry was set up following revelations of phone hacking at Murdoch's News of the World tabloid. The scandal has shaken the British establishment and raised questions about whether top politicians helped shield Murdoch from scrutiny. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) (Lefteris Pitarakis)
Mel and I became lifelong friends. He is well into his 80s now, but he is as sharp as ever. And he is worried - worried about the all-volunteer Army that he helped to create, and worried about where we are going in Afghanistan.
In a letter last week, he said the volunteer force far exceeded his expectations, but that we are asking too much of it now, and the "multiple deployments and disregard for the personal and family life of our troops and their emotional well-being threaten to undermine our national security."
Afghanistan worries him even more. He first went there in 1953, and he said "its culture is tribal, not nationalistic, yet we hope to build a nation there … we've fought eight years and lost 1,000 Americans, yet we are no closer today to stability, let alone victory."
Laird remembers how bad intelligence and misunderstanding led us to Vietnam and he wonders now if we have made the same mistakes again. "I know something about misguided wars and how easy it is to get mired down in something that started with the best intentions," he said.
Mel Laird's opinion is one view, and there are others. But Mel Laird has seen a lot. If he's worried, so am I.
- Bob Schieffer
Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.Follow on Twitter »
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