gave a speech at West Point which secured his place in history right next to Lyndon Johnson,
and he seemed none too pleased about it. Obama announced an expansion of the war in
Afghanistan by adding 30,000 more troops. His rationale appears to be we have to expand
the war in order to begin to end it in eighteen months. At a time when unemployment is
over 10%, his healthcare reform bill is being debated in the Senate, his energy bill is stalled,
and many Democrats are calling for another round of economic stimulus to create jobs;
the President told the American people he is going to spend at least $30 billion more
treasure and who knows how much blood to continue America's role in a civil war for which
there is no definition of victory.
Obama's speech left more questions than answers. He did not explain how he will pay
for the additional commitments. Will he support a war tax? Will he add more to the deficit?
He did not explain why it is so difficult to get the Afghan people to defend their own country
from insurgents. He did not explain why he is sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan when
he acknowledges the real enemy is in Pakistan. He did not explain how a corrupt government
under Hamid Karzai is going to morph into an effective partner with public support. He did
not explain how fighting in Afghanistan will protect us here in this country.
Just as Johnson watched his Great Society programs dwindle and fade as the cost of
Vietnam grew, Obama expands America's military presence in Afghanistan while our own
nation is reeling from an economic disaster which continues to add layers of pain and
uncertainty to most American's lives with no end in sight.
Cindy Sheehan asked President Bush what her son fought and died for in Iraq. He was
never able to answer her question. Can Obama answer it now? According to our President,
we are in Afghanistan because we were attacked on September 11th. However, the people
who attacked us are in Pakistan. Al Qaeda has virtually ceased to exist in Afghanistan. We
are fighting in Afghanistan to prevent a return of the Taliban to power while at the same time
the Karzai government is inviting disgruntled Taliban to join his government. We are in
Afghanistan because of terror attacks in England, Bali, and Turkey; yet these attacks, along
with plots uncovered in this country, were hatched in the border regions of Pakistan. The
President says we have to fight the Taliban; and yet the Taliban in Pakistan are very different
than those in Afghanistan, with different goals and objectives. In effect, the President said,
we are sending 30,000 troops to stand up the Afghans so we can stand down eighteen
months from now. Sound familiar?
We are told this will not be another Vietnam, yet the similarities are striking. The
dispute in Afghanistan is a civil war between the majority Pashtun Taliban and other ethnic
groups. The government of Afghanistan is weak and propped up by American power as was
the government of Vietnam. Karzai does not have widespread support due to a fraudulent
election and rampant corruption. As in Vietnam, the Afghans themselves don't seem to want
to fight for their own nation. Just as we tried to train an effective Vietnamese army, and
failed; now we are asking Afghans, many of them Pashtuns, to fight and kill their countrymen.
What's more, this war does not have popular support here at home with the latest polling
showing 53% of Americans want us out of the country. As in Vietnam, we are foreigners
fighting an enemy on their home turf.
In his speech, the President did not even hint at the question of India vs. Pakistan.
The Taliban was created and supported by the Pakistan military and intelligence services
to destabilize, disrupt, and take over Afghanistan in order to reduce or eliminate Indian
influence. The dirty little secret is India and Pakistan have been using Afghanistan for a
proxy war. There appear to be strong elements in Pakistan who still want the Afghan
Taliban to succeed; so how do 30,000 additional troops address this problem?
Obama appears to have agreed to expand the war in Afghanistan for the same reason
Johnson expanded the Vietnam war...domestic politics! Tapes of Johnson talking to aids
reveal he did not believe the war could be won; but he was afraid of being accused of being
soft on communism by Republicans if he did not add more troops. Obama has been told by
his political advisors if he withdraws troops or does not appear to be aggressively prosecuting
a war against the Taliban/al Qaeda and there is another terrorist attack in this country; he
will be savaged by the neo-cons and regressives and his re-election will be in serious doubt.
The irony here is delicious. Obama is President today because Hillary Clinton, John Edwards,
and Joe Biden made a political calculation to support the use of force in Iraq in order to
advance their campaigns for President. Obama opposed the war in Iraq and he is President
today because of it. Now he is expanding the war in Afghanistan using similar political
calculations; so where does that leave us, the voter?
The President says this is not a blank check or an open-ended commitment to
Afghanistan. The reality is eighteen months from now, as he is gearing up his Presidential
re-election campaign, Obama will be under intense pressure to continue the war and even
expand it. Eighteen months from now, if our casualties are continuing, if their government
is shaky, if popular support has eroded even more, if the situation in Pakistan is deteriorating,
and if Regressives are attacking Obama for being soft on terrorism; there is not the slightest
chance our President will begin to draw down troop levels. It's a simple fact of American
politics. Eighteen months from now we will still be no closer to a definition of victory
than we are today.
Eighteen months from now America's military machine will still be broken. Soldiers
will be on their forth or fifth tours of duty. Equipment will still not have been replaced
to make up for all that was lost, destroyed, or simply worn out from all our previous years
of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The costs to the American taxpayer to care for damaged
veterans will continue to skyrocket; and should disaster or conflict arise here at home or
anywhere else on the globe, our ability to respond will be perfectly impotent. How's that
for national security? It's called no national security at all!
Mark Twain was right when he said, "...history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes".
Obama is ignoring what happened to President Johnson. He is walking into an unwinnable
situation with his eyes open and hasn't learned anything from his predecessors. He says
this war is in our national interest when we at home lack jobs and are losing our homes.
When our states are close to bankruptcy and the economy shows few signs of recovery,
can't this somehow be defined as "national interest" to those in Washington? Isn't an
economically strong America better for our national security than control of the poppy
fields of Afghanistan?
Obama ran for President promising to bring about change. He was going to be different
than George Bush. He promised to think outside the box by proposing new ways to improve
the health of this nation. But, at West Point there wasn't any significant difference between
Obama and Bush. And that is where we stand today with those that call the shots in
Washington. Don't think I don't wish it were otherwise. What do you think? I welcome
your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org