Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yesterday: Humor; Tonight: War--Journal for Tuesday

Last evening I posted a more lighthearted piece on humor, in writing and the media, and chided myself on my own sometimes odd taste in pop culture.

What a difference 24 hours makes.  I eagerly anticipated Mr. Obama's speech from West Point, his rationale for escalating the troop numbers in Afghanistan, and his strategic ideas.

Far more politically savvy writers will do impeccable analyses of the impact of the speech and the practicality, as well as the intelligence, of the decisions made after a long and exhaustive review.

So I will make a few brief comments about some stray threads that I just can't seem to tuck into the rest of the fabric, as it were:

--Is this decision in any way influenced by lobbyists for the weapons industry?  I'll be doing more research, but would be happy for material from fellow bloggers.

--Will this damage the Democratic party?  I was in shock after a post-speech interview Keith Olberman did with Maxine Waters (D-California)in which she stated that she will not support her President's strategy, and will even vote against funding.

--Obama clearly wants to dispel the notion that this war could be our next Vietnam.  Basic to this  is the notion that in 2001 we were attacked on our soil by terrorists trained in Afghanistan/Pakistan, who are still at large and staging a resurgance within that geographic region.  Therefore it necessary to bring the fight to them there.  In Vietnam, the argument goes, no Vietnamese attacked us within our borders.  While that point may be true, nevertheless the comparisons between the conflicts are noteworthy, even chilling.  I found an article in AntiWar.com, titled "The Vietnam-Afghanistan Mirror", by Bernard Weiner, professor and correspondent for SF Chronicle. The article was written November 10, 2001...and much of it is relevant after tonight's speech.

--I do not hold to the idea that Al Qaeda or the Taliban recognize the borders containing Afghanistan, Pakistan, or other countries in the region, borders which were drawn almost a century ago to preserve Western interests.  Our enemies' allegiances are to peoples and tribes, not countries, and so we simply keep driving them from one area to another.  An interesting Newsweek article (again drawing parallels to Vietnam), offers this quote:
"Afghanistan is not a nation, it is a collection of tribes," according to a Saudi diplomat who did not wish to publicly disparage a Muslim neighbor.

--Pakistan: Mr. Obama said: "We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border."   The implications here were glossed over.  How do we "win" in Afghanistan and work a strategy for both sides of the border---without taking the war into Pakistan?  It sounds sickeningly familiar to another attack on a bordering country:

--Cambodia. In a fascinating blog from Pakistan, dated February 21, 2009, the issue of the secret use of drones in Pakistan is parallelled with covert bombing of Cambodia in 1972:
   "The most pertinent example is the campaign against Cambodia during the Vietnam War. That war, having consumed the Democratic Party presidency of Lyndon Johnson, brought to power the Republican Party under Richard Nixon on the promise of change in war policy. Within months of assuming office in 1969, Nixon approved the ‘secret’ bombing of North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) ‘sanctuaries’ on Cambodian soil. A year later, ground assaults against the same targets were publicly announced. "

--Don't Ask Don't Tell; or a Draft: With the troops stretched to their limits, and the need for fresh soldiers to meet the escalation, I will make a wild prediction, that for practical and political reasons,  a way will be found to overturn Don't Ask Don't Tell.  The military will halt the dismissal of gay personnel, and encourage fresh recruits who will not avoid service due to their sexual orientation.  This before a draft, but I would not rule that out, if things fall apart in 18 months.


  1. A really superior article on the war in Afghanistan and the analogous comparison with Vietnam. I hope for everyone's sake this war ends better and sooner. I'd have to guess that Afghanistan would have a splintering effect on the Democratic party as the Dems seem to be much more divided on what to do about the war than they did say on health care reform. As for Don't Ask Don't Tell, I would have to agree with you that if conditions don't improve they will be forced to reverse that decision. This is a war like none other we have fought, against an adversary that plays by their own rules. I hope we are up to the challenge of meeting them head on and launching a winning campaign against these terrorists.

  2. I hope you're right Tom. While lip service is often paid to "national interests" when decisions such as these are made, it is a bold-faced political decision above all. I am reading a lot of opinion on either side in hopes of finding enough to warrant my support ...because I want to support the policy... It just seemed to me that I was watching the remake of a movie that had a bad outcome the first time around. Thank you for your comments!

  3. WOW, let me start and state two of talking points. [They select, so we may elect]. Also, [mistake after mistake after mistake, is not a mistake, it is just suppose to look like one].
    His statement of [we will finish the job] will be his [mission accomplished] statement by W.
    This is now his war. He joins the club of [War Presidents.] Conditions on the ground, and draw down will be heard a lot. The speech could have been written for W. But only Obama [the chosen one] could have pulled it off.

    I am a very, very left, leaning guy. I despise all [masters of war].
    The Dems that are carrying the water for this policy, are carrying the blood to the trough of insanity. I will put you on my blog roll. This will need to be followed up upon.

  4. realityzone:
    Thank you for visiting and for your impassioned comment. Hope you'll be back---your feedback is welcome!

  5. I'll follow your blog for a few weeks, to see what your message is. Looks positive so far...

  6. Vigilante,
    Great to have you on board! Hope you'll accept my invitation to "stay" long-term. You'll find lots of subjects here....and I appreciate your feedback.