It must come as some reassurance to Mitt Romney that he is not the only would-be President who says remarkably silly things he knows to be untrue. Last week Hillary Clinton, on a tour of sub-Saharan Africa, delivered a speech in Senegal in which she said that the United States would stand up for democracy and universal human rights “even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way, to keep the resources flowing.” In a barely veiled dig at China, she added, “Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will.” [click to continue…]
If existing parallels between the U.S. experience in Indochina and our current entanglement in Afghanistan weren’t already enough, the Afghanistan war (Operation Enduring Freedom) now has its own version of the My Lai massacre. The only surprise is that nothing like the Sunday murder of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant had previously occurred in 10 years of fighting.
For all his campaign promises to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and end our military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, Barack Obama has pursued a course almost indistinguishable from that of George W. Bush. But of late, he has started to sound more like Richard Nixon. In a speech he gave yesterday in the Rose Garden, the President said, “So make no mistake, we have a strategy that will allow us to responsibly wind down this war. We’re steadily transitioning to the Afghans who are moving into the lead, and that’s going to allow us to bring our troops home…And meanwhile, we will continue the work of devastating Al Qaeda’s leadership and denying them a safe haven…I am confident that we can continue the work of meeting our objectives, protecting our country and responsibly bringing this war to a close.” This sounds eerily like Nixon’s “peace with honor” and “Vietnamization of the war.”
It can’t be long before we are treated to images of American diplomats being helicoptered out of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as the Taliban move into the city. In 1972 we brought our troops home from Vietnam, under the pretext that the Vietnamese – and the Cambodians as well – could now shoulder the responsibility for their own defense. It took another three years before the Khmer Rouge and the North Vietnamese Army seized Phnom Penh and Saigon, respectively during which corrupt governments in both countries, rather than trying to defend their people, engaged in an unseemly scramble to amass as much loot as they could before the party ended.
The Karzai government is easily the equal of Lon Nol’s Cambodian regime when it comes to incompetence and corruption, while the Afghan Army is, if anything, less capable than its historic Southeast Asian counterparts, and also infested with Taliban sympathizers. Once NATO forces withdraw, I suspect it will take far less than three years for the Taliban to take over. Tragically, that might be the best possible outcome, the worst being a return to all-out civil war between north and south.
It is time for us to leave. Now.
I am glad Osama Bin Laden is dead. Not dancing in the streets delirious – we don’t do that sort of thing in the Boston suburbs where I live – but satisfied. A man directly responsible for the gruesome deaths of thousands of people has now gone to his just rewards, and the world is better off for that.
Even before confusion began to emerge about what exactly happened in that house in Abbottabad last Sunday, voices had been raised, mainly in Europe and at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, that the American operation was not “just.” The clamor has intensified now that it appears Osama was unarmed at the time of his death. The claim, however, is absurd. Those who make it seem to think that the Navy Seals who stormed Osama’s compound should have slapped handcuffs on him, read him his Miranda rights, and carted him off to Riker’s Island to await trial. Using that logic, no criminal proceeding that occurred before the introduction of trial by jury, right to counsel, rights against self-incrimination and the like could be considered just. Neither Hammurabi’s Code nor Solomon’s wisdom nor the trial of Socrates could pass that test, leading us to conclude that justice itself did not exist before 1966 or thereabouts. [click to continue…]
Apart from color, demeanor, and facility with the English language, the substantive differences between our current President and his immediate predecessor seem fairly insubstantial.
An Associated Press article in today’s newspapers reports that General David Petraeus, appearing this morning on NBC’s Meet the Press program, described Afghanistan as a “tough and enduring fight that would require its ‘character and its size being scaled down over the years.’” That sounds as if we can expect our troops to remain in Afghanistan in strength well beyond the end-2011 deadline announced earlier by President Obama. General Petraeus also said that if the U.S. loses, there would “likely be a bloody civil war followed by a takeover by extremists. If the U.S. succeeds and Afghanistan stabilizes, the country could become the region’s new “Silk Road” with the potential to extract trillions of dollars worth of minerals.”
The General does not speak for the President, but Petraeus, as savvy a political operator as ever wore an Army uniform, is not about to repeat Stanley McChrystal’s mistake which, minus the frat boy banter, consisted of publicly disagreeing with the President. If he said this on a network TV broadcast, it is likely that the President agrees with his assessment, and may even have approved his remarks as a sort of trial balloon for the bad news he (the President) will ultimately have to break to the American people. [click to continue…]