Friday, October 16, 2009

Surging in Afghanistan = Purging the Democrats

The Republicans are the loudest cheer leaders in General McChrystal's corner as he reccommends an escalation in Afghanistan. 

That's not surprising, of course, because they have always been this nation's war party. Do you remember an American war they didn't like? Do you know a current Republican office-holder who opposes this surge?

The GOP senses that Afghanistan can be Obama's Waterloo. In these weeks, these sharks smell the blood of Liberalism and are already circling. They have always sought to strangle, drown and bury their demon, the welfare state, by ginning up their own warfare state. 

They will see to it that BHO's Change-We-Can-Believe-In will end up like LBJ's Great Society. They will see to it that Barack Obama will reprise on March 31st 2012, Lyndon Johnson's swan song on the same date in 1968. Not too much will have to be altered from LBJ's prepared remarks. A sample:
Tonight I want to speak to you of peace in Vietnam Afghanistan and Southeast Central Asia.

.... On many occasions I have told the American people that we would send to Vietnam Afghanistan those forces that are required to accomplish our mission there. So, with that as our guide, we have previously authorized a force level of approximately 525,000 100,000.

.... It has not been easy—far from it. During the past 4 years, it has been my fate and my responsibility to be Commander in Chief. I have lived—daily and nightly—with the cost of this war. I know the pain that it has inflicted. I know, perhaps better than anyone, the misgivings that it has aroused.

.... Throughout this entire, long period, I have been sustained by a single principle: that what we are doing now, in  Vietnam Afghanistan , is vital not only to the security of Southeast Central Asia, but it is vital to the security of every American.

And in these times as in times before, it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of faction, of party, of region, of religion, of race, is a house that cannot stand.

There is division in the American house now. There is divisiveness among us all tonight. And holding the trust that is mine, as President of all the people, I cannot disregard the peril to the progress of the American people and the hope and the prospect of peace for all peoples.

So, I would ask all Americans, whatever their personal interests or concern, to guard against divisiveness and all its ugly consequences.

Fifty-two Thirty-Eight months and 10 days ago, in a moment of tragedy and trauma, the duties of this office fell upon me. I asked then for your help and God's, that we might continue America on its course, binding up our wounds, healing our history, moving forward in new unity, to clear the American agenda and to keep the American commitment for all of our people.

..... What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and politics among any of our people.

Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.

With America's sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office—the Presidency of your country.

Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.
To this day, I remember exactly where I was the night LBJ threw in his towel. I had fallen asleep actually watching what appeared to be just another long-winded, sentimentally sweet and syrupy Lyndon-being-Lyndon televised homily. I had no idea history was turning a corner until I jerked myself awake for his final words. "What was that? What was that?" I shouted. We didn't have TIVO in those dark days.

In these dark days to come, if we're escalating in Afghanistan, a single-term for #44 will not surprise me...


  1. Yeah! You would think that we learned the lessons of Vietnam. Yeah, you'd think. Lionel has a few questions that have not been answered. What is the exact mission in Afghanistan? Who precisely is the enemy and what precisely do they want? What is the exit strategy? What is the commitment? These were the very questions that we asked about Iraq. It was called The Powell Doctrine. Remember?

  2. VIG; great post ! ! ! i totally agree. if obama [stays the course] think [shrub lite]. or, if he escalates, with in the region. obama may very well be a one termer. the msm and [tptb] are keeping this under the radar. every one is focused on the economy, and health care. the war drums are beating. and the effen neolibs are beating them the loudest. the neocons wrote the tune, but the neolibs have joined the choir. there are polls in pakistan showing that the pakisani's fear, and hate the west nmore than the taliban. ooooops.

  3. "That's not surprising, of course, because they have always been this nation's war party."
    And yet Republicans can't figure out why their presidents don't win Nobel Peace Prizes.

  4. @Vig,
    This administration should take all the resources and money that the Bush Administration threw at Afghanistan and dedicate them to finding and apprehending Bin Laden and his inner circle.
    That would be a far more meaningful act than attempting to create a symbolic republic in Afghanistan.

  5. Vigil,
    As I recall the Repubs opposed Clinton's intervention in the Balkans.I suppose they understood it wouldn't become a morass so opposed it on partisan grounds,in the same manner they are arguably supporting escalation in Afghanistan on partisan grounds.

    No reason to be there.None.

    Reminds me of the old Mort Sahl routine. The father talking about Vietnam and saying he didn't know how we could get out of there, and the son says "Why not turn the boats around Dad?".

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  7. Once again, there is NO comparison between Afghanistan and Vietnam. None. This Vietnam fixation belongs to the uninformed. I have gone on and on about this, primarily on this blog, and have always met with complete resistance. I am too tired to do it again. Read the history of Vietnam and then compare it to the history of Afghanistan. Don't just listen to the talking heads and draw lines through old speeches. Do some real research.

    Secondly, why is everyone so ready to throw President Obama to the wolves? Do you really think he will make the same mistakes as Lyndon Johnson or Silly George? I have more faith in him than to draw those empty comparisons. I voted for a president who has the sense to learn from the mistakes of history. So you may jump from the ship if you wish, but it is not close to sinking. Perhaps you should stick around and see if you can help. A little loyalty, with a dollop of faith, is a good start.

  8. MM; i respect your hope, and loyalty in obama. until he proves different, he is shrub lite. he kept gates. 1st mistake. he had ZBIG, and Albright as his foreign policy advisers right out of the gate. [major mistake]. he continues the drone attacks. he is amassing major forces on the af/pak border. imo; this mught be for an invasion of pakistan. he should have, but did not fire mc chrystal. they want up to 60,000 more troops. we just sent 13,500. i believe he will allow another 20,000k. that you see no comparison of af/pak to Nam is very strange to me. vietnamization==afghanization. attack, hold, and build, is right out of nam. again, no clear definition of victory, no exit strategy, all is based on lies. [think] gulf of tonkin].karzai and his clan are the richest in afghanistan. i hope to the bottom of my heart that obama proves me wrong. we shall see. but i rather think not.

  9. I served in Vietnam RZ, as a military intelligence agent, so it is safe to say I had a really close look. Once again there is absolutely no comparison between the two theaters of operation, not culturally, not strategically or politically.

    I am puzzled where you got the information that the president, who is nothing like George Bush, is amassing forces on the border for an invasion of Pakistan? I haven't read that anywhere, nor have I heard that anywhere. As to your numbers they are not accurate.

    Keeping Gates was an excellent move. He is an intelligent, rational thinking man who does a fine job as does Zbig and Albright.

    Clearly you have no love for the president, as you appear not to support any decisions he has made with regard to our national defense. Regardless, you are certainly entitled to your opinion and I welcome yours, although I don't agree with one word. The nice thing about America is we can agree to disagree.

  10. MM; i respectfully agree to disagree. lol obviously we are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Since you approve of gates, zbig, and albright. then is see where you are coming from. imo; gates was not obama's choice. he was a retread for the [international realists] ==papa bush. the people, and their agendas that yhou approve of are NEOLIBS. The next thing you will tell me is that you approve of Holbrooke. We are, and have been in the business of creating failed states. pakistan is a major target.

  11. It is safe to say Mad Mike had a really, really close look at Vietnam. He really, really had a close look at the trees, but so close he was, he couldn't see the forest. In Vietnam, there was no exit strategy. Those who disagree, can take it up with Colin Powell. Does any one know of an exist strategy for Afghanistan?

  12. petro; i went to your link. it keeps quoting mr. ghani. problem==this is from reuters. mr. ghani was once a leading contender to head the WORLD BANK.

  13. MM; i forgot you can go to my blogspot if you have not already. i posted an article about zbig and pnac. this you will definately not agree with. but i believe it. lol do you also like khalilzad?

  14. Boris never once did I say we had an exit strategy in Vietnam, and unless you were there I strongly suggest you not talk about the trees or the forests.

  15. Obama may "reprise" LBJ, but it's not clear that Joe Biden will 'reprise' Hubert Horatio Humphrey, and go down with Obama's team with 'A little loyalty, with a dollop of faith'.

    From Newsweek, Biden in a September 13th national security meeting at the White House, says:

    "Can I just clarify a factual point? How much will we spend this year on Afghanistan?" Someone provided the figure: $65 billion. "And how much will we spend on Pakistan?" Another figure was supplied: $2.25 billion. "Well, by my calculations that's a 30-to-1 ratio in favor of Afghanistan. So I have a question. Al Qaeda is almost all in Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And yet for every dollar we're spending in Pakistan, we're spending $30 in Afghanistan. Does that make strategic sense?" The White House Situation Room fell silent.

    Arianna Huffington recommends that Biden resign over the issue of escalation instead of saving his dissent for his memoirs. But I don't think that's in Joe's tea leaves.

  16. I've preached too much about Afghanistan being the wrong theater to fight. Obama should keep the level of troops there to train Afghanistan soldiers to fight their own war. The real theater, the most important theater is Pakistan. The United States should increase its support of Pakistan, who seem to have some guts to fight Al Queda, to fight its own country.

  17. I think both sides of the Vietnam v. Afghanistan issue have some points. Mike is certainl right that the Afghanistan conflict does not hold a candle to Vietnam where we had over 500,000 troops deployed. However, if we are not careful, we could get gradually sucked in and it could become as bad or worse. I trust that Obama is too bright for that, but he has some crappy advisors.

  18. Apparently they are planning "a long war" of 50 or maybe (as John McCain let slip before the election) even 100 years:

    I'm in agreement with Vigil. I've read a lot of Andrew Bacevich's stuff and I think Bacevich served in Vietnam too. He's for ending the wars. This next week I will get a chance to hear Col. Larry Wilkerson (former aid to Colin Powell) and he's been speaking honestly for sometime about a lot of this so we'll see what he has to say about Afghanistan.

    I would take issue with the idea that criticism of Obama's policies has anything to do with "love" for the president. I might love my Grandma drunk or sober but will do everything in my power to oppose her from driving drunk.

  19. As you know, I've been talking to a lot of Russians lately. But even without talking to them, I could have told you that the biggest problem Mikhail Gorbachev had was one of timidity; he had the power to effect sweeping change, but he was too worried about ruffling feathers to do more than piecemeal movements. In an age when the USSR needed someone with resolve, they got Gorbachev, and we know what happened.

    I really and truly believe that the President is our Gorbachev, and I think we're heading for the same end. It is a bit ironic that Afghanistan will wind up being a David that knocked two Goliaths off the bipolar world scene, but what's coming couldn't be clearer. We simply cannot do even another 3 years of our present deficit spending; foreigners won't support us.

    Obama can start, right now, demanding that the people who got us into this mess start helping us get out of it with some revenue, or he can throw in the towel. It really is that black and white.

  20. Great comment on Obamalove, Coleen!

  21. As so often he does, my friend, Oso, corrects me:

    I recall the Repubs opposed Clinton's intervention in the Balkans.I suppose they understood it wouldn't become a morass so opposed it on partisan grounds,in the same manner they are arguably supporting escalation in Afghanistan on partisan grounds.

    Yes. And the BBC was reminding me this morning of those bad old days of Srebrenica: 8,000 killed in front of the Dutch forces in blue U.N. helmets. 8,000 in five days.

    In those days I was on the internet, too. Back then it was the L.A. Times' BBS. My adversary was a Russian graduate student in Kansas named Yelena. (Russians and Serbs were joined at the hip through religion.) It got so vicious the Times gave up on moderating it and closed it down.

    What I also remember is being on the freeway commute to work in the morning, yelling back at the car radio for Clinton to intervene goddamit. And knocking a motor-cyclist into the freeway divider.

    Those were bad old days.

  22. Vigil,
    Sounds like in those days you drove like Juan Marichal with the motorcyclist playing the role of John Roseboro!

  23. Oso, now that I'm semi-retired, I play (half as) better with others...

  24. I swear to Dawg, I did not plagiarize this column! I just found
    William J. Astore's
    Obama at the Precipice: Tough Guys Don't Need to Dance in Afghanistan (The Nation)!

    Here is the money graph:

    By failing his first big test as commander-in-chief this way, Obama will likely ensure himself a one-term presidency, and someday be seen as a man like LBJ whose biggest dreams broke upon the shoals of an unwinnable war.

    I recommend reading Astore's column. (I'm reading it, anyways!)

  25. Astore says if Lyndon Johnson had Listened to Norman Mailer in '65 before LBJ crossed his Rubicon and backed escalation in Vietnam, he would have heard this,

    "The image had been prepared for our departure--we heard of nothing but the corruption of the South Vietnam government and the professional cowardice of the South Vietnamese generals. We read how a Viet Cong army of 40,000 soldiers was whipping a government army of 400,000. We were told in our own newspapers how the Viet Cong armed themselves with American weapons brought to them by deserters or captured in battle with government troops; we knew it was an empty war for our side."

    Astore concludes,

    What Obama needs, in other words, is fewer generals and ex-generals and more Norman Mailers--more outspoken freethinkers who have no interest in staying inside the pentagonal box that holds Washington's thinking tight. What Obama needs is to silence the endless cries for more troops and more war emanating from the military and foreign policy "experts" around him, so he can hear the voices of today's Mailers, of today's tough-minded dissenters. Were he to do so, he might yet avoid repeating LBJ's biggest blunder--and so avoid suffering his political fate as well.

  26. VIG; thank you for bringing this up about norman mailer. ---is there one, one, prominent voice in our government that is getting the air time that he or she deserves that is against our intervention in af/pak. the msm, is not covering this. now or govt. does not want to show any more pictures of our dead. are we to be totally oblivious to what we as a militaristic empire is doing.

  27. As usual, I'm late. I'd better get over here more often: I've been too blog-absorbed over at Swiftspeech, Vig, posting ≌100 "end of the world" predictions to refute the 2012-ers.

    I read this post several times—the LBJ-Obama comparison is chilling. LBJ, in his speech refusing to accept the nomination for the Democratic party in 1968, had the integrity to state Viet Nam's ugly consequences. He had the guts to acknowledge publicly his errors. As usual, I have over-verbalized my perspective and need more space to comment.

    Mike, I am less qualified to disagree with your comment that "Viet Nam is not similar to Afghanistan," and never knew you served in Vietnam RZ, as a military intelligence agent. Since I did not serve in Viet Nam, I am already aware I know less than you, especially about military intelligence.

    I'm not sure about NO comparison between Afghanistan and Vietnam. None. This Vietnam fixation belongs to the uninformed.

    From my perspective, the similarities of Viet Nam and Afghanistan arises from our inability to recognize that terrain plays a huge part in war. If we send more troops, and I hope Obama will have the sense to avoid this error, then we need to know the area far better than we do. Another comparison that strike me is that the home team usually has the advantage—they did in Viet Nam, they do in Afghanistan.

    However, I cannot speak to the covert operations in Afghanistan. Certainly, the military stratagem significantly differs. Politically, Viet Nam was fought based on Cold War mentality, while Iraq and Afghanistan occurred based on a cowboy mentality. I'm not even sure either war was based on politics, but financial gain. Most wars are.

    On the other hand, Bro, "There are a lot of differences [between Vietnam and Afghanistan]," says Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska and a Vietnam vet who often talks to Biden, "but one of the similarities is how easily and quickly a nation can get bogged down in a very dangerous part of the world. It's easy to get into but not easy to get out. The more troops you throw in places, the more difficult it is to work it out because you have an investment to protect." That's one of the simplest and most well-put arguments against deploying troops to Afghanistan that I've heard to date.

    VP Joe Biden deserves more credit in his efforts to avoid deploying additional troops. I'd like to weigh in with an excerpt from Newsweek's article on Biden's perspective on Afghanistan:

    During a long Sunday meeting with President Obama and top national-security advisers on Sept. 13, the VP interjected, Can I just clarify a factual point? How much will we spend this year on Afghanistan?" Someone provided the figure: $65 billion. "And how much will we spend on Pakistan?" Another figure was supplied: $2.25 billion. "Well, by my calculations that's a 30-to-1 ratio in favor of Afghanistan. So I have a question. Al Qaeda is almost all in Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And yet for every dollar we're spending in Pakistan, we're spending $30 in Afghanistan. Does that make strategic sense?" The White House Situation Room fell silent. But the questions had their desired effect: those gathered began putting more thought into Pakistan as the key theater in the region.

    Nicely done.


  28. Obviously, the general consensus here is that no one wants more troops deployed—in Afghanistan or Pakistan. If Obama errs with his military strategy, he will certainly be a one-term president.

    Biden's plan makes more sense and will preserve lives through negotiation rather than deployment of American more troops. Diplomacy building with Pakistan is obviously the more prudent option than sending more troops to Afghanistan, another war we can't win—just like Viet Nam.

    Petro (sigh) not debating the manufactured war endangers our troops even more because Americans blindly send our citizens off to war without questioning the ultimate cost. If we are to throw out dissent, our troops no longer need to fight for Democracy—there won't be any. Dissent is a critical part of Democracy.

    Stimpson, I'm not sure the Republicans should get the credit for being the "War Party." I'm thinking of Franklin Roosevelt who, if anyone, was the ultimate war president. Ditto with Woodrow Wilson. I think it's more likely that the Rethugs get us into the war, and then leave the Democrats the mess to clean up. Of course, the exception is Nixon, which makes me wonder if LBJ had plans to end deployment in Viet Nam already in place.

    Jolly Roger, I really and truly believe that the President is our Gorbachev is an apt comparison. Gorby moved too quickly and Obama moves too slowly. One of the issues that stick in my craw is that Americans credit Ray-Gun with Peristroika.

    Boris, I feel the same way. You would think that we learned the lessons of Vietnam. Unfortunately, many of the Baby Boomers turned into avaricious Capitalists and forgot the war. I might add that there's no longer a draft, so people turn a blind eye to the reality of this manufactured war.

    How many deaths will it take 'til we know,
    That too many people have died?

  29. Always, always worth the wait......

  30. A single term for Obama followed by another far-right Republican regime? What an absolute disaster THAT would be! We CANNOT become bogged down in Afghanistan or Pakistan. We cannot afford it, nor can we afford a return to Bushonomics. It's time to pull out, plain and simple.

  31. President Obama will be reelected in 2012, with or without Afghanistan, just like the Bushwhacker was reelected in 2008 despite the mess in Iraq. Unlike Duyah, BHO is a brilliant man who doesn't need the likes of Norman Mailer ("The Belly of the Beast")advising him on foreign policy. Clearly his current advisers are not leading him astray. He has not significantly escalated the war by adding the troops requested by the generals. He has adopted a policy of wait and see, coupled with careful study. I am confident that whatever he decides will be with the interest of the nation at heart.

  32. Vig, you flatter me. Please don't stop... 8^)

    I missed this comment from Bro Mike [W]hy is everyone so ready to throw President Obama to the wolves? Do you really think he will make the same mistakes as Lyndon Johnson?

    If Obama wins reelection in 2012, I believe the programs he's attempting to enact will ameliorate the Bushit of the past eight years. I don't know how many times it will take until people remember what he's accomplished in only nine months.

    Why is he given no credit for funneling money to the middle class, providing $4,000 rebates for new car purchases and $8,000 for first-time home buyers' down payment? Yes, he bailed out the banking industry, but these actions indicate a willingness to help the middle class and the poor get back on their feet after the financial ruin that Cheney—and I mean Cheney—caused.

    I, too, am not ready to give up on Obama. As is usual with Vice Presidents, I feel too many people do not give Joe Biden enough credit. He's in a perfect position to question doubtful policy candidly and use his considerable experience. It's important to remember he spent 27 years in the Senate, and I admire Obama for his wise move in appointing Railroad Joe.

    Consider the following: Our new VP is 180° removed from the previous one. That's an extremely positive and well-reasoned move on Obama's part.

    Yes, LBJ made horrendous mistakes in 'Nam. He also signed more progressive legislation than any other president in history. I don't know if his errors came from the generation from which he came—the Cold War terror intensified by McCarthy (the Fifties' answer to the Supreme Dittohead). I wonder what effect this cultural climate had on LBJ...

    I can't excuse LBJ's needless and frightful blind-sightedness in Viet Nam. Nor can I vilify his progressive national policies, which were admirable.

  33. Another thing Obama had done: He ordered a review of Veteran's issues. As a result, millions of veterans, including me, will now be able to access our medical benefits. Thanks Stella for reminding the president's detractors that he is hardly George Bush redux.

  34. I agree 100%, Vig. If Obama is a one term president, it won't be because of the economy or health care. It'll be because of Afghanistan. And what a shame. He seems like such a bright guy/student of history.

  35. Extraordinarily fine and thought provoking comments and essay. This is a very difficult situation.

  36. Vigilante, with the last several posts (including the two that FOLLOW this one) it seems to me that Vigilante has got his mojo back. Really excellent stuff.