Sunday, September 6, 2009

Afghanistan: Obama's Vietnam?

Lately we have seen more and more people who know what they are talking about writing negatively about our military involvement in Afghanistan. For example, Nicholas D. Kristof writes:

"My own trips to Afghanistan have taught me to never, ever underestimate the savvy of the traditional fighters there. In 2001, when I was covering the war around Kabul, I came across something that stunned me. A group of Afghans had figured out that American war planes were bombing anything they thought were Taliban camps. So these Afghans would build groups of fires off in the hills, away from any village, and then withdraw a half mile. Then the Americans would come along and drop $20 million worth of bombs on the campfires. And the Afghans would come along and load their horses or trucks with the debris from the bombs, which they would sell for a few hundred dollars as scrap metal. They made a tidy profit off us American taxpayers."

The problem for Obama is that during the campaign he chastised Bush for getting us into Iraq, when Afghanistan was where the terrorists were. He liked to use the line that Bush "took his eye off the ball."

I fear that Obama will now feel so committed to this that he will ignore the intelligence reports which an objective person would use as a basis to withdraw our forces. I hope Obama doesn't fall into the liberal trap (liberals being people who think government action can solve problems) of staying way too long with a failed policy, as LBJ did in Vietnam.

Only time will tell if Obama has the statesmanlike qualities needed to make the difficult decision to withdraw. At some point we know we will be withdrawing, as we surely aren't staying there forever! History tells us that the Afghan fighters will persevere and win out; the Soviets found this out during the 1980's; fortunately for them, they had a leader, Gorbachev, who was statesmanlike enough to recognize the need to get out and to do it.

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