Monday, March 30, 2009

Too Much Johnson (and Lincoln) and Not Enough Kennedy

Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and dissident, writes of eerie similarities between Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam policies and Obama's Afghanistan policies. This is a very good article by an intelligence professional that I respect for his honesty and courage. It makes me even more leery of the new Obama policy on Afghanistan. Extended tidbit:

In his Afghanistan policy speech on Friday, Obama mentioned training eleven times. To those of us with some gray in our hair, this was all too reminiscent of the prevailing rhetoric at the start of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

But our training was not going good then. And specialists who know Afghanistan, its various tribes and demographics tell me that training is not likely to go good there either. Ditto for training in Pakistan.

Obama’s alliterative rhetoric aside, it is going to be no easier to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan with more combat forces and training than it was to defeat the Viet Cong with these same tools in Vietnam.

Obama seemed to be protesting a bit too much: “Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course.” No sir. There will be “metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable!” Yes, sir! And he will enlist wide international support from countries like Iran, Russia, India, and China that, according to President Obama, “should have a stake in the security of the region.” Right.

“The road ahead will be long,” said Obama in conclusion. He has that right. The strategy adopted virtually guarantees that. That is why Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan publicly contradicted his boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, late last year when Gates, protesting the widespread pessimism on Afghanistan, started talking up the prospect of a “surge” of troops in Afghanistan.

McKiernan insisted publicly that no Iraqi-style “surge” of forces would end the conflict in Afghanistan. “The word I don’t use for Afghanistan is ‘surge,” McKiernan stated, adding that what is required is a “sustained commitment” that could last many years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

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