Our authors argue that Obama’s reasons for Afghanistan not being like Vietnam are quite wrong:
“First, Obama noted that Afghanistan is being conducted by a “coalition” of 43 countries — as if war by committee would magically change the outcome (a throwback to former President George W. Bush’s “Iraq coalition” mathematics).”
Well, we need to include other parties as much as possible, though their politics probably do not allow them to wage an open and extended military campaign (how about ours?). They still clearly have a stake in the outcome.
“The president went on to assert that the Taliban are not popular in Afghanistan, whereas the Viet Cong represented a broadly popular nationalist movement with the support of a majority of the Vietnamese. But this is also wrong. Neither the Viet Cong then, nor the Taliban now, have ever enjoyed the popular support of more than 15 percent of the population…”
Partially agreed. And:
“The president’s final argument, that Afghanistan is different because Vietnam never attacked American soil, is a red herring. History is overflowing with examples of just causes that have gone down in defeat.”
But they can strike us and do damage…this is the main reason I believe no sitting president can allow another attack to be plotted on his watch…
I think I understand the fear of a Democratic leader pick up an unpopular war, and getting us in deeper. It’s real, and quite valid. Perhaps Obama hasn’t really offered any new strategy or insight (and things haven’t changed that much since Vietnam). Perhaps he’s a difference-splitter looking for an exit, doing what he has to politically…
But clearly politics play a part in this discussion…and is there anything else offered?
Addition: A reader points out that we should leverage the global warming hoopla (despite the naivete and dangerous idealism…it is a world meeting) as a platform to create more representative world governance….thus leveraging this body to create better leverage in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ha-ha.
But these are stateless actors, motivated by a violent and extreme vision of a holy war, and of modernity and the world. Islam and the West have had many points of contact for many centuries worth thinking about…
From Bloomberg: More Troops To Afghanistan? A Memo From Henry Kissinger To Gerald Ford?…From The NY Times Video: ‘A Schoolgirl’s Odyssey’…From The WSJ: Graham, Lieberman and McCain “Only Decisive Force Can Prevail In Afghanistan…From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power”