The winds of change die down

by Justin Raimondo


I have to feel sorry for my progressive friends, of whom there are a few, who had so much hope for the new administration, and were convinced that the election of Barack Obama would lead to a significant shift in American foreign policy. One can hardly blame them for their election night elation: after all, eight years of relentless militarism and knee-jerk belligerence were finally over, and a new day was dawning — or so they thought. Since it would be in dubious taste to say ‘I told you so,’ I’ll refrain and simply note the facts: the Obama administration has been a major disappointment to self-described liberals and Democratic party activists (outside the unions) on a wide range of issues, including not just foreign policy but also civil liberties and healthcare ‘reform’...

The fifty-year war

The Nation
by Jonathan Schell


I was about to write that there can be no military solution to the war in Afghanistan, only a political one. But I almost fainted with boredom and had to stop. Who, as President Obama lengthily ponders his decisions regarding the war, wants to repeat a point that’s been made 11,000 times before? Is there anyone on earth who doesn’t know by now that you can’t win a guerrilla war without winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people? The American public has known this since the American defeat in Vietnam. The formerly colonized peoples of the Third World, whose hearts and minds were the ones contested, know it...

Vietnam’s lesson for Afghanistan

Boston Globe
by Ray Takeyh


An all-too-familiar image is haunting the debate about Afghanistan: The Vietnam War. Thirty-five years after America’s ignominious departure from the rooftop of the Saigon embassy, many in Congress are obsessed with the possibility of defeat and disgrace in another poorly understood country. If a little history is a dangerous thing in the hands of critics, the Vietnam syndrome is absolutely toxic. The foremost lesson of history is that history does not repeat itself in the exact same manner at every junction. The curious and disturbing aspect of such historical exaggerations is that it is affecting those responsible for guiding US policy. To be sure, the corrosive Vietnam syndrome seems to particularly trouble Democratic administrations...

Why most counterinsurgency wars fail

Independent Institute
by Ivan Eland


In recent history, very few counterinsurgency wars have ended in success. Guerrillas are often outgunned by a wealthier invading power, but they do have two powerful advantages. One is that they are fighting on their home turf, which they usually know much better than the invader. Guerrilla warfare at the strategic level is defensive, even though at the tactical level, raiding insurgents are many times on the offense. As a result of being on the strategic defense, the second advantage is that the attacking power will find it difficult to overcome the ‘foreign invader’ label among the population of the invaded country. Thus, because winning the support of the local population is the most important — and difficult — objective in any counterinsurgency war, most such campaigns end in failure...

Pacifying Afghanistan: a dangerous dream

Christian Science Monitor
by Walter Rodgers


If Gen. Stanley McChrystal prevails in persuading President Obama to insert more US troops in Afghanistan, do Americans understand the difficulty of the task they’d face? Do they understand that even more of our young men and women would be charged with pacifying a savage mountainous land the size of Texas? One where nearly every male older than 8 stands willing to die in the fight against foreign occupiers? Even McChrystal doesn’t guarantee victory over Taliban insurgents, let alone predict how many decades would be required to win. ‘Decades’ is a long time for an American public that watched its troops beat back both Nazi Germany and imperial Japan in just four years. Americans turned against the war in Vietnam as the years wore on. The war in Afghanistan is now in Year 8...

Overseas insanity

Future of Freedom Foundation
by Jacob G. Hornberger


One of the fascinating aspects of the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan is how so many Americans, prodded by their rulers, have convinced themselves that U.S. troops are killing and dying to ‘protect our freedoms.’ All across America — in churches, sports events, airports, and the like — people steadfastly maintain their sweet, innocent mindsets as they ’support the troops’ in their effort to heroically spread freedom, democracy, and the American way of life and protect Americans from the terrorists...

Obama and Afghanistan: A credibility gap?

Mother Jones
by David Corn


The term ‘credibility gap’ came into popular use during the Vietnam War, when President Lyndon Johnson, other government officials, and military leaders repeatedly issued positive statements about the war that were dramatically at odds with the reality on the ground. As Johnson and later President Richard Nixon prosecuted a tough and controversial war, it was not easy for them to level with the public about the conflict without running the risk of losing support for the effort. Four decades later, Obama is struggling with a similar dynamic...

Informant: Thomas L. Knapp


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