Eric Schaeffer
Theater director

Eric Schaeffer

Co-founder and artistic director for Signature Theatre in Arlington, which won the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award for sustained artistic excellence.


First hand

Q: The ex-commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan was replaced after talking trash about other officials. Can leaders ever be excused for such excesses? In a broader sense, is success possible for the U.S. in Afghanistan, and how would you define it? Or, as someone said early on in Vietnam, should we simply "declare victory and leave"?

This past April, I was one of 29 people chosen from across the country to take part in the Department of Defense's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference. It was a week-long tour of every branch of the military throughout the southeastern part of the country.

I was exposed to every branch and training facility that is part of the military program of our country. It was eye-opening to say the least. We shot machine guns, rode in helicopters and witnessed training exercises as well as got to have meals first hand with soldiers who have been in combat in Afghanistan.

Seeing their commitment and dedication, there is no excuse for a commander to be talking the way he was in the recent Rolling Stone article. These people are risking their lives every day and they deserve respect.

As for should we pull the plug on the effort -- that's a hard question. I think where the war is really taking its toll is on the families. The soldiers I talked to who are going back for a third or fourth rotation see it as their job, but it's taking wear and tear on the families left behind.

The war is the longest war in this country's history. There comes a point where you need to survey all the options, make a decision and stick to it. I think that unless you have all the information in front of you to make an educated decision, we can't make that call. But that "call" has to be made soon.

By Eric Schaeffer  |  July 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Defining success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Letting a reporter tag along for more than a day sealed McChrystal's fate. Had the reporter returned sans imprecation, he'd have been fired by Rolling Stone for gross incompetence.

Posted by: Martial | July 14, 2010 11:24 PM
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The President said this is the "war we had to fight" so there is no way out for him... He is really stuck between a rock and a hard place.. This one is a mess. I truly believe that this will be Obamas Viet Nam, the only difference being that the press will treat him more kindly. But just look at it.. We don't know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. How do you fight a war with 40 lbs of gear on in a camo outfit in 110 degree heat...I look out over the landscape, or whatever that terrain would be called and I wonder what exactly are we aiming to do.. The natives are not going to help us when they fear we will leave in a year or when public opinion here in the US turns against the war and they will be left to be pointed out to the Taliban as the people who sided with the Americans.. When the Taliban punishes you I don't think it is like waterboarding, where you are back watching TV the next day.. It hurts when your head leaves your shoulders. and it is final !!

Posted by: james_m_reilly1 | July 14, 2010 9:36 PM
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