Thursday, June 24, 2010

Looking Into a McChrystal Ball

I watched two documentaries last week, one about the Viet Nam War and one about Napoleon. They prompted me to wonder, once again, if the people that run this country know anything about history. Or, if they do know and understand history, do they somehow feel like their destinies are somehow controlled by different paradigms than other historically tragic figures.

Surely, if Obama studied Viet Nam and Napoleon he would understand that wagging war without a reason is folly. There is no glory in killing and the only historical motive that has ever been advanced to justify war is self-preservation. It is pretty accepted as a historical fact that Viet Nam was a mistake that was premised on mysterious logic and arcane fear. Despite all indications to the contrary, President after President perpetrated a lie on the American people, selling fear along the way. Somehow, while thousands of young men died, those guys were able to sleep at night. What where they scared of that made them back seat their conscience? How could these men watch the images coming back to America of the atrocities. How could anyone of good conscience use a substance like napalm or carpet-bomb?

Napoleon defined a complex, that I suspect visited the likes of Johnson and Nixon, despite their physical statures. Some grand concept was envisioned by these guys that motivated them to ignore logic and the evidence at hand and refuse to make the harder choices; the right choices. In the end, the only result was defeat and banishment. It makes no sense to go to fight in Russia in the winter, as it makes no sense to fight an enemy who is invisible, sustain millions of casualties and has the patience to wage war for decades until his enemy is vanquished.

I can accept the fact that George W. Bush was and is a moron who probably didn't bother to learn history, but why would those in Congress kowtow to a moron and commit this country to war without purpose? What is it about Washington that seems to evaporate common sense in those who work there?

I don't doubt that Obama is a smart guy and probably isn't easily duped by those around him. So why does he continue to follow a foreign policy that is tragically flawed with no upside that I can see? This latest episode with McChrystal is disturbing in the sense that it appears there is no strategy in Afghanistan. McChrystal, like most career military guys see themselves at home in war. Like Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now these guys seem to lament the possibility that war could end, leaving them with no purpose. Not exactly the guys to listen to when setting policy.

It didn't take a crystal ball for Obama to see that the time to wage war in Afghanistan, if ever, was right after 9/11. When Obama took office he should have started pulling out the troops and left the historical blame for Bush. Instead his took some bad advice from somebody and made a poor choice. What with this latest "chain of command" debacle, he should make the right choice, the hard choice and end this thing now before one more American or one more Afghani dies. Viet Nam today is a prospering, economically viable country; a popular tourist destination. Learn a lesson there. It's time to talk to the Taliban, cut a deal and get back to creating jobs and alternative energy in this country. McChrystal did you a favor Mr. President. McChrystal gave you a window of opportunity to do the right thing. Do it.

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