From Bloomberg today:
“President Barack Obama and top U.S. military commanders are under pressure from senators and civilian advisers to double the size of Afghan security forces, a commitment that would cost billions of dollars.”
and this would be potentially added to an existing pledge:
“…to fast-track the buildup of combined Afghan security forces to 134,000 Army personnel and 96,800 police — 230,800 in all — by 2011, according to U.S. Central Command. The Defense Department has requested $7.5 billion for fiscal year 2010 to fund the expansion.”
Apart from the facile Afghan/Vietnam comparison which I’m already guilty of by having written this, here’s a short memo from Henry Kissinger to President Ford in 1975 about lessons of the Vietnam War:
“One clear lesson that can be drawn, however, is the importance of absolute honesty and objectivity in all reporting, within and from the Government as well as from the press.”
Elusive objectivity…I could do with honesty and focusing on our reasons…
One arguable difference:
We are not using military force to protect our political and economic interests in Afghanistan against the advancing threat of an adversarial state and its ideology (I suppose there existed a real fear was that we would eventually threatened at home), but rather against a stateless ideology, with roots in Islam (the theology is debatable) and though pursued by a few, I suspect is tolerated by many in the Muslim world who aren’t necessarily happy with the scope of American influence there.
It still doesn’t seem like a a situation any sitting U.S. president could allow politically (an Al-Qaeda training camp that produces another attack, and so we are protecting our interests), but it also seems that with the tribal nature of much of Afghan society, the lack of education and infrastructure, we are also committing to a lot of “nation-building.”
Insterestingly, Kissinger, like anyone with a foreign policy interest, longed for consistency on our end, to have met more of our commitments in Vietnam, and perhaps to have maintained what he thought were our moral aims there. But alas, this is politics.
A notable similarity:
Perhaps many people are supporting the war because they support Obama, just as Kennedy inherited Vietnam and many supported Kennedy, not necessarily the war…
Just a few thoughts. Feel free to highlight my ignorance and/or share your knowledge.
What are our moral obligations to the Afghan people?: From Bloggingheads: Andrew Bacevich And Heather Hurlburt Discuss Afghanistan And Pakistan
Are we still living in Huntington’s shadow?: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work
Addition: And a quote from that Atlantic piece:
“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.