For Immediate Release
Escalating the War in Afghanistan
Afghanistan correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.
Solomon, the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He said today: "Among the 'best and brightest' who are set to oversee foreign policy for the next president, there appears to be a consensus for escalating the war in Afghanistan. The assumption bears an ominous resemblance to the political atmosphere and media tone during the mid-1960s, when the conventional wisdom was that everyone with a modicum of smarts knew that upping U.S. troop levels in Vietnam was a necessity.
"No less than in Vietnam several decades ago, the prospects for a military victory in Afghanistan are extremely slim. Far more likely is a protracted version of what CBS anchor Walter Cronkite famously called 'a bloody stalemate' in February 1968. But, in 2008, more important than whether the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan can bring 'victory' is the question of whether it should continue.
"Right now, the basic ingredients of further Afghan disasters are in place -- including, pivotally, a dire lack of wide-ranging debate over Washington's options. In an atmosphere reminiscent of 1965, when almost all of the esteemed public voices concurred with the decision by newly elected President Lyndon Johnson to deploy more troops to Vietnam, the tenet that the United States must send additional troops to Afghanistan is axiomatic in U.S. news media, on Capitol Hill and -- as far as can be discerned -- at the top of the incoming administration.
"But the problem with such a foreign-policy 'no brainer' is that the parameters of thinking have already been put in the rough equivalent of a lockbox. Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara and Lyndon Johnson approached Vietnam policy options no more rigidly than Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Barack Obama appear poised to pursue Afghanistan policy options. Such destructive group-think, including wonkish faith in the efficacy of massive violence, caused Martin Luther King Jr. to denounce what he called 'the madness of militarism.'"
Solomon was an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He will be in Washington, D.C., until December 9.