Saturday 05 December 2009
The decision has been made. The months of meetings and briefings are over. Tuesday night, the president made it official: 30,000 more American troops to
Friday's New York Times reported, "President Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan over the objections of fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill, is straining a relationship already struggling under the weight of an administration agenda that some Democratic lawmakers fear is placing them in a politically vulnerable position."
Next year's midterm elections could be a disaster for the Democrats. That's what happened to Lyndon Johnson. After winning by the largest plurality ever in 1964, bringing with him huge majorities in the House and Senate, in 1965 he escalated the Vietnam War. The next year, Democrats lost 50 seats in Congress.
That's just one of the possible effects of this fateful decision, one that could scuttle Obama's campaign promises of social and other reforms just as surely as the Vietnam War did President Johnson's. Guns and butter, LBJ said; for a time we thought we could pay for both. We could not.
Money that could be spent generating jobs, improving education, fighting global warming and world hunger is poured into this bottomless chasm of war. Some estimates put the ultimate cost of occupying
Yet, nothing is certain about our objectives there. The original goal of capturing Osama bin Laden was lost long ago, and so scattered now are our motives and so shaky our rationale that, prior to President Obama's speech, the Pentagon was asking the public to Twitter what "points and/or issues" they thought the president should highlight. Nor is there any real evidence that the administration is serious about the 18-month timetable for withdrawal that the president announced in his
Our own military says Osama bin Laden's true believers have been reduced to a relative few, chased across the border into
And when it comes to training the Afghan police and army, and continuing to support the corrupt and dysfunctional government of Hamid Karzai - such a wager has all the makings of the sucker bet to end all sucker bets. Toss into that pot disputatious warlords fueled by self-interest, the opium trade and hostility toward any outside occupier, and the already slim odds fade to mathematical improbability.
You've made your decision, Mr. President, and good luck with it. But turn back as fast as you can. It's an ambush.
Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday nights on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs