Pondering the Graveyard

Abby Zimet

It's been a while since Obama's actions have inspired hope or
gratitude in us, but it seems right to welcome the apparent seriousness
with which the Administration is now weighing its options in
Afghanistan - what the ever-sneering Cheney called "dithering." Obama
is reportedly resisting
calls for more troops, and asking for other options. Unlike Bush et al,
he seems to understand the gravity of the decisions facing him. Surely
that's a start. Let him take his time. Let him see more coffins. Let
him hear the rising chorus of those who see the quagmire ahead. And let
him read the cogent, informed, historic analysis
by William Volk on America's uncomprehending, inevitably disastrous
intrusion into yet another civil war where, just as in Vietnam, we have
no place.


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"According to press accounts, you are being told that America can win the
war against the Taliban by employing overwhelming military power. Just
like President Johnson's generals, yours keep asking for more troops. When I was in government, we were told we
could achieve victory in Vietnam by the same combination of force and
counterinsurgency recommended by your advisers in Afghanistan. But as
the editors of the Pentagon Papers concluded, the 'attempts to translate
the newly articulated theory of counter-insurgency into operational
reality....(were) marked by consistency in
results as well as in techniques: all failed dismally.' What actually brought all the insurgencies, including the one in
Vietnam, to a halt was the withdrawal of the foreigners."

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