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Like so many of the seemingly unsurmountable problems that President Barack Obama inherited from George W. Bush, the eight-year-old war in Afghanistan came with the job.
But Obama is quickly making it his fight and he is doing so in ways that make Bush seem timid when it becomes to war mongering.
The President has approved a plan to put more combat troops in harm’s way while replacing clerks and pencil-pushers with private contractors. He will soon get a request from the Pentagon to put even more troops on the ground. More troops, the generals will say, will help us win the war.
Sound familiar? It should. Back in the 60s, the guys with the stars and bars on their uniforms told then President Lyndon Johnson that sending more troops to Vietnam would give us victory in the rice paddies.
It didn’t work then. Odds are, it won’t work now.
Like Vietnam, Afghanistan is a country with a history of outlasting attempts of outsiders who want to control its destiny. The French gave up in Vietnam. The Russians pulled out of Afghanistan. We didn’t understand the culture of our enemy in Vietnam. We know even less about the culture of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Vietnam distracted Johnson when he tried to build the "great society." Afghanistan will increasingly distract Obama as he tries to cope with the economic crisis and other pressing domestic issues like health care.
Like Vietnam, the war in Afghanistan is one America cannot win while, at the same time, it cannot afford to lose.
But we’ve already lost. Sending more American men and women to die in another lost-cause war will not change that reality.