Thursday, December 03, 2009

Straw man and a cowardly lion

Why Kennedy Said No to Vietnam Combat Troops by William Pfaff

One of the straw men arguments Obama beat up on in his recent speech at West Point was that "Afghanistan is another Vietnam". Well of course it isn't. For one, Vietnam has much better weather. Obama pointed out that unlike in Vietnam, 1) in Afghanistan the U.S. has a coalition of 40-odd countries involved (I'm at pains to understand the relevance of this to a determination of the wisdom of carrying on this war - it seems rather like contrasting the two countries' weather patterns), 2) the insurgency is unpopular (sure, if by "unpopular" you mean that only 44% of Afghans have no sympathy for the various insurgent groups, while 22% have "a lot of" and 34% have "a little" sympathy; but then, so too is Karzai's government unpopular), and 3) the U.S. was attacked from (notice the preposition usage here: "from" rather than "by") Afghanistan (partially, yes; but the U.S. was just as much if not more attacked from Florida and Germany - besides: so fucking what? A political bombing was carried out in the U.S. in the 70s by a bunch of Chilean thugs, and no one suggested bombing Chile).

Three much more apposite points of similarity between the wars against Vietnam and Afghanistan are: 1) a domestic insurgency fighting to take back their homeland from yet another foreign occupier; 2) the U.S. propping up a corrupt government; 3) the U.S. government invoking a domino effect theory to justify the war.

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