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Obama at the Rubicon.

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by glynch, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    A good article by Buchanan. Let's hop that Obama comes to his senses. If morality won't cut it, hopefully cold political calculation will.
    ***********
    Obama at the Rubicon

    by Patrick J. Buchanan, September 09, 2009
    Email This | Print This | Share This | Comment | Antiwar Forum
    If the aphorism holds – the guerrilla wins if he does not lose – the Taliban are winning and America is losing the war in Afghanistan.

    Well into the eighth year of war, the Taliban are more numerous than ever, inflicting more casualties than ever, operating in more provinces than ever, and controlling more territory than ever. And their tactics are more sophisticated.

    Gen. Stanley McChrystal calls the situation “serious.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen calls it “serious” and “deteriorating.”

    President Obama thus faces a decision that may decide the fate of his presidency. For if the situation is grave and deteriorating, he cannot do nothing. Inaction invites, if it does not assure, defeat.

    Does he cut U.S. losses, write off Afghanistan as not worth any more American blood and treasure, and execute a strategic retreat?

    Or does he become the war president who sends McChrystal the scores of thousands of U.S. troops necessary to stave off a defeat for all the years needed to conscript and train an Afghan army that can and will defend the Kabul regime and pacify the country?

    Afghanistan is being called Obama’s Vietnam.

    It could become that, and bring down his presidency as Vietnam brought down Lyndon Johnson’s. But Afghanistan is not yet Vietnam in terms either of troops committed or casualties taken.

    The 68,000 Americans who will be in Afghanistan at year’s end are an eighth of the forces in Vietnam when Richard Nixon began to bring them home. Vietnam cost the lives of 58,000 Americans. The Afghan war has cost fewer than 1,000. U.S. casualties in Afghanistan are as yet only a fifth of the U.S. losses in the Philippine Insurrection of 1899-1902.

    If we compare Afghanistan to Vietnam, we are about in 1964, when the Tonkin Gulf Resolution was passed and the bombing of the North began, or December 1965, when the Marines came ashore at Danang.

    Obama can still choose not to fight this war.

    But should he so choose, he will be charged by Republicans and neoconservatives with a loss of nerve, with having cut and run, with having lost what he himself has repeatedly called a “war of necessity,” with having abandoned the noble cause for which many of America’s best and bravest have already paid the ultimate price.

    And it needs be said: The consequences of a U.S. withdrawal today would be far greater than if we had never gone in, or had gone in, knocked over the Taliban, run al-Qaeda out of the country, gotten out, and gone home.

    Instead, we brought NATO in, put tens of thousands of troops in and declared our determination to build an Afghan democracy that would be a model for the Islamic world, where women’s rights were protected.

    After inviting the world to observe how the superpower succeeds in taking down a tyranny and creating a democracy, we will have failed, and we will be perceived by the whole world to have failed.

    While there was no vital U.S. interest in Afghanistan before we went in, we have invested so much blood, money, and prestige that withdrawal now – which would entail a Taliban takeover of Kabul and the Pashtun south and east – would be a strategic debacle unprecedented since the fall of Saigon.

    But what if Obama approves McChrystal’s request and puts another 20,000 to 40,000 U.S. troops into the war?

    Certainly, that would stave off any defeat. But what is the assurance it would bring enduring victory closer? The Taliban have matched us escalation for escalation and are now militarily stronger than at any time since the Northern Alliance, with U.S. air support, ran them out of Kabul.

    About the political consequences of escalation, there is no doubt.

    Obama would divide his party and country. His support would steadily sink as the roll call of U.S. dead and wounded inexorably rose. He would watch as the NATO allies moved toward the exit and America was left alone to fight alongside the Afghans in a seemingly endless war.

    Consider. If there were no Americans in Afghanistan today, and the Taliban were on the verge of victory, how many of us would demand the dispatch of 68,000 troops to fight to prevent it? Few, if any, one imagines.

    What that answer suggests is that the principal reason for fighting on is not that Afghanistan is vital, but that we cannot accept the American defeat and humiliation that withdrawal would mean.

    Thus Obama’s dilemma: Accept a longer, bloodier war with little hope of ultimate victory, a decision that could cost him his presidency. Or order a U.S. withdrawal and accept defeat, a decision that could cost him his presidency.

    In such situations, presidents often decide not to decide.

    Harry Truman could not decide in Korea. LBJ could not decide in Vietnam. Both lost their presidencies. Ike and Nixon came in, cut U.S. losses and got out. The country rewarded both with second terms.

    http://original.antiwar.com/buchanan/2009/09/08/obama-at-the-rubicon/
     
  2. ROXRAN

    ROXRAN Contributing Member

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    Baloney...Harry Truman was perhaps the most decisive President ever. Many historians argue this as one of his strong points. He did exactly the right thing in Korea considering other options...

    Obama feels compelled to be in Afghanistan for some reason, but the thing is we can do no more than occasional target strikes which may kill civilians or appear so.

    There is only marginal punitive gains. Is it worth it? Let's spend all that money to help those in need first in the U.S...Get the economy prioritized. Get people employed by the government to dig ditches or pick up trash. Teach the Dept. of Education to communicate...

    Get the basics done first.
     
  3. Deji McGever

    Deji McGever יליד טקסני

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    I have a lot of Russian friends who spent some time in Afghanistan in the 80's.
    They were there to build a modern country that supported modern education and the rights of women as well.
     
  4. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    Sounds like Republican Tactics here in America

    If the aphorism holds – the guerrilla wins if he does not lose – the REPUBLICANS are winning and America [or Democrats] is losing the war on HEALTH CARE, Economy, etc . . .

    . . . I'm just saying . ..

    Rocket River
     
  5. A_3PO

    A_3PO Member

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    I said it a few weeks ago before the Afghan war become such a hot topic of discussion: Obama is at two crossroads that could chop the legs out from under his presidency: Healthcare and Afghanistan. IMO, he will get something done on healthcare this year and his presidency will survive the challenge somewhat intact, but injured. But the Afghan war could totally infect and define his presidency. I assume a major policy address on the subject is forthcoming when he makes a decision on troop levels.

    (The other crossroad is the economy, but I'm going to assume economic growth will creepy-crawl improve for the next 2-3 years without slipping back into recession).
     
  6. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    Hyperbole much?

    Everything is politics as usual.
     
  7. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    There are similarities between Afghanistan and Vietnam but there are some key differences. For one we have learned something from Vietnam and Gen. McChrystal isn't calling for more troops for escalation sake to bomb them back to the stone age but is proposing a strategy to help build Afghanistan. From what I have seen while he paints a dire picture he is proposing a sound strategy to fighting an insurgency other than what happened in Vietnam.

    The biggest difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam is we actually were attacked by people allied to the Taliban, based there and under they protection of the Taliban. While yes we were in a Cold War with the Soviet Union as Berlin and the Cuban Missile Crisis showed MAD was holding them in check and paranoia aside the Soviets were as accutely aware of the dangers of actually attacking the US. Al Qaeda has shown no concern at all about that and as long as the Taliban continue to work with Al Qaeda it is reasonable to expect that if the Taliban recapture Afghanistan they are likely to allow Al Qaeda to resume a base of operations there.

    I agree that wars unfortunately often take on a life of their own where prestige is the driving factor but in Afghanistan there is a clear evidence indicating that defeat not only would be a blow to US prestige but would represent a danger to the safety of the US.
     
  8. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    They also waged an incredibly brutal campaign that included dropping mines that looked like toys. NATO hasn't been an angel in Afghanistan but is nothing like the brutality with which the Soviets acted like.
     
  9. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    The new standard for American foreign policy. It is ok it it doesn't drop mines that look like toys. .
     
  10. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    Yeah, Afghanistan is already in the stone age. Now on to phase two....

    The flaw in this is that we're trying to bring Democracy and its traditions to a Stone Age nation. A move like this like how Mao tried to enforce Communist principles wholesale upon an agrarian nation. At least Mao was considered a countryman instead of a foreign oppressor.

    Democracy is a long and pained process that's only possible when its people accepts the core principles as another form of implicit faith. There weren't riots or armed conflicts inside the US with Bush's re-election. It took a lot of time to accept that peaceful transition of power.

    Afghanistan has none of that faith. They're deeply rooted in their cultures and traditions, which I doubt 99% of Americans know or understand. Their histories, established hierarchies, what makes them tick, are all parts to building theoretical a framework of their democracy. And putting that ideal recipe to practice would be an entirely different puzzle to tease and resolve.

    We're beyond all of that. This is a different animal altogether.
     
  11. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    That is not the only thing but do you think that the current NATO campaign is comparable in brutality to what the Soviets did in the 1980's?
     
  12. Rashmon

    Rashmon Contributing Member

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    Where were you when we began wasting all the money in Iraq?
     
  13. ROXRAN

    ROXRAN Contributing Member

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    I don't want to go there. Let's talk about the current...
     
  14. Rashmon

    Rashmon Contributing Member

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    That's what I figured...
     
  15. rhester

    rhester Contributing Member

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    Troops cannot stop terrorists. Terror is a tactic.
    What troops do is impose the will of the empire on territories. (See all of history.)

    Intelligence operations and agencies such as the CIA are designed to successfully stop terrorists.

    Pull the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been enough US blood shed for money and politics. Whatever Bush said we are there for I don't buy
    it and whatever Obama's twist on it is I won't buy either.

    It is wrong for us to force our idea of democracy on sovereign nations.
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. Batman Jones

    Batman Jones Contributing Member

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    Of course you don't. Nobody likes remembering that they supported the greatest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam.
     
  17. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member

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    I agree.
     
  18. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    Were the US troops in WWII and WWI there to enforce the will of an empire on foreign territories?
    They certainly play a big role but the battle against terrorism is bigger than just cloak and dagger.
    I agree that terrorism is a tactic and not an ideology but I don't agree with the idea that there isn't a role for the military to play in this. I don't believe the military should be the main option but in a situation like Afghanistan the military can be used to both directly attack our enemies and also to provide security so the Afghans to rebuild their country.

    While I am generally very cautious about the use of military force Afghanistan is clearly a situation where we have a security interest. This isn't a matter of forcing democracy or occupation but in offering the Afghanis more security than what they've had for decades. That obviously isn't easy but considering what is at stake I think it is something we have to do.
     
  19. rhester

    rhester Contributing Member

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    I agree, that is my point, we didn't act as much like an empire back in the day.

    Let's stop now.

    The CIA is more powerful than we both know- just my opinion.

    Troop occupations fuel terrorists, galvanizing their cause and support.
     
  20. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    It is pretty comparable actually. A foreign nation comes in with the intent of conquering Afghanistan and installing their way of life. The Afghans resist and the invaders try to kill them.

    In terms of how many the Russians killed versus the US I suppose the Russians killed more, though I suspect the numbers are much closer if you take into account how many our allies the Northern Alliance killed. Don't you remember the early days of the war in which we mowed down thousands of Taliban with our helicopter gunships. How about the hundreds of prisoners that we allowed the NOrthern Alliance to kill.
     

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