Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Obama's Vietnam

Keith Olbermann spent all of one segment and part of two others making snide remarks about those who are beginning to refer to Afghanistan as “Obama’s Vietnam.” He went on at length about how Bush has failed to win that war for seven years and Obama will have had only four years by the end of his term, and implying that the reference is stupid and everyone should shut up about Vietnam.

The part of the reference which Keith seems to have missed is that the stubborn pursuit of the war in Vietnam after it was apparent that there was nothing to be gained by doing so divided the country and dragged down a president’s popularity, and that a similar action in Afghanistan could do so again. Pouring money and resources into and expending lives fighting a war that the people of this nation increasingly do not see as worth fighting can make a president unpopular in a lot less than four years.

It is not reasonable to expect Obama to have won the war in Afghanistan after seven months, but that’s not the point. The point is that it is reasonable to expect that he might have stated some clear and reasonable purpose why we are there and what we are trying to achieve; to provide some reasons that actually relate to our national security and interest. So far all we seem to be doing is fighting and dying to allow rigged elections to be held, in which a very small number of people actually voted, and did so for a slate of crooked politicians.

Obama was against the war in Iraq. That was a courageous and principled stand that he took in 2002 and has never wavered from. He was opposed to the use of military force against Iran, notwithstanding his “all options are on the table” during the campaign. That was stand that he took on principle in 2004. That left him, though, with a problem when he decided to run for President; he had to show “strength on national security” and to demonstrate his willingness to fight wars. You simply cannot become President in this country without that.

And so he chose to promise to “win the war in Afghanistan," and here we are escalating a war which long since ceased to serve our national interest; fighting on merely in order not to be seen as having lost. Once again we are sending in a new commander who promises victory by the use of some new strategy; but the new commander cannot define that victory and his new strategy turns out to be the same old set of tactics with new names.

And already 51% of the nation thinks this “Vietnam” is not worth the price.

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