What ’12 Strong’ Tells Us about Afghanistan

    Dana Rohrabacher

    Security, Middle East

    A soldier stands guard near a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft sitting on the tarmac at Kandahar Air Base

    Afghanistan still simmers under the political infrastructure devised by American planners.

    The newly released movie 12 Strong is a powerful, realistic portrayal of our Special Forces—on horseback—liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban in the days following 9/11. The campaign combined the Northern Alliance with U.S. Special Forces and U.S. airpower retaliating against radical Islam’s massive, murderous assault on America.

    Do not wait for it on cable. See Jerry Bruckheimer’s mind-boggling recreation in your local movie house for full impact. The producer commanded the most advanced cinematic technology, including drones, to wallop us into an awareness of how these kinds of battles actually go down.

    The plotline rightly focuses on our heroic Green Berets and their fight alongside our ally (and my friend) Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and his Northern Alliance horsemen as they liberated the northern Afghan city Mazar-i-Sharif from the Taliban. Anachronistically, it was the last American cavalry charge: soldiers on horseback facing deadly mechanized weaponry and still winning.

    The movie forgivably indulges pro-American license, scripting the Green Berets as leading Dostum’s troops into battle when it was the other way around. Dostum, portrayed brilliantly by Navid Negahban, comes off as a kind of Obi Wan Kenobi, the ancient-wisdom-dispensing warrior. Perhaps we really ought to think of the Star Wars icon as an incomplete version of General Dostum, now vice president of Afghanistan—if only Obi Wan consumed vodka.

    I watched the movie at a special screening in Washington accompanied by Dostum’s son, Batur. My personal memories returned as fast as the laser-guided rockets flying across the screen.

    Because of my experience coordinating with the anti-Soviet Mujahideen out of the Reagan White House, my acquaintance with Afghanistan and its multiple actors was long and textured.

    As a congressman in 2001, I found myself by happenstance in contact with, yes, a Taliban leader, which yielded a warning that something big—an attack on America—was imminent.

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