Will Afghanistan Be to Barack Obama What Vietnam Was to Lyndon Johnson?

Posted on April 30, 2009. Filed under: Senior Study Discussion Groups | Tags: , , , , , |

• Both presidents were elected by substantial margins largely on the strength of their domestic agendas
• At their swearing-ins, both presidents inherited on-going conflicts
• Both made early decisions to send additional troops into the conflicts
• Both conflicts were/are guerrilla-type wars involving cultures alien to the west
• Vietnam and Afghanistan had/have long histories of defeating invaders of their lands
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Questions:
1. What should be Obama’s policy in Afghanistan?
2. Following Johnson, Nixon said, “I’m not going to be the first American president to lose a war.” Could that kind of thinking play a part in Obama’s policy?
3. How could Obama pull out of Afghanistan without damaging America’s “leadership” role?
4. Do you think that Islamic fanaticism can be overcome? How?

References
1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3DkeJ4bMDQ
2. http://www.afghanland.com/history/alexander.html
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_B._Johnson
4. http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/vietnam/index.html
5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thAS28SWKKU
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_in_Afghanistan
7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Anglo-Afghan_War

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4 Responses to “Will Afghanistan Be to Barack Obama What Vietnam Was to Lyndon Johnson?”

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Dear Mr. Obama: you have inherited a hornet’s nest in Afghanistan/Pakistan, but you are about to kick that nest with the addition of more “boots on the ground”. Putting it in the simplest possible terms: The “west” is not welcome in that part of the world (although its dollars are). So what must you do?

First, use and enhance all means of intelligence gathering to anticipate and negate any threats to us…or our allies. To be effective, we must insert agents who look like, talk like and act like the people of the region (especially the Taliban).
Second, insert agents on the ground (not remote drones) to “neutralize” perceived threats.
Third (and concurrent with 1 and 2), begin drawing down our visual presence in those parts.
Fourth: Do not rely on the governments of those parts to participate in the above actions.

On Friday, 5 June, Bill Moyers sat down with award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill to examine the human and financial costs of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His was the most compelling case I’ve seen for why we must drastically change course in that part of the world. I urge you to see it on either Moyer’s progam:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06052009/profile.html
or an excised version on http://www.afghanistan.elliskatz.net

I have just finished reading “The Making and Unmaking of British India” By Lawrence James; St. Martin’s Press, NY 1943 and have been exposed to the initial history of Britian’s Afghanistan debacle mid 19th century. I have copied excerpts from serveral pages of the book and will be happy to share them with anyone interested.


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