[I took this photo at the annual "Mummer's Parade," Middletown, DE, Jan. 1, 2002]George Will's column in today's Washington Post is a must-read. Will makes a cogent case for why our Afghan war cannot end well. He points out that the principal excuses for waging this war--to defeat Al Qaeda and to stabilize the Afghan government--are invalid. Al Qaeda is not concentrated in Afghanistan, and it would take decades to establish an Afghan government that could keep Muslim extremists out of the country. Then there is the problem of our announced intention to begin withdrawing in 2011. Obama, ironically, is pursuing the same surge strategy in Afghanistan that Bush pursued in Iraq. But here is the paragraph that really caught my attention:
The president's party will not support his new policy, his budget will not accommodate it, our overstretched and worn-down military will be hard-pressed to execute it, and Americans' patience will not be commensurate with Afghanistan's limitless demands for it. This will not end well.
I was happy to see such a prominent commentator acknowledge the toll this latest surge is going to take on our troops.
Just the other day, I head someone suggest that "this," after all, is what the troops volunteered for. Not quite. We don't have "volunteers" in the sense that the French Foreign Legion of old had "volunteers." Our young "warriors" didn't enlist in search of a good war or, failing that, whatever war we've got. Most carry a set of decidedly mixed motives, and even family ties, in their Alice Packs. Their new service anthem should perhaps be Credence Clearwater's "Fortunate Son," which poses and answers the following musical question, Whenever I ask how much should we give,/The only answer is more, more, more!"
Obama, of course, insists that Afghanistan will not be another Vietnam. We'll see. But even neo-cons Michael Medved and Michael Savage seem to be worried about the parallels. At the same time, some dismiss the comparison, pointing out that the number and rate of casualties in Afghanistan pale in comparison to Vietnam. My answer: Give them time. We may get there yet.
And if we do, I'd like to suggest an appropriate memorial. We could just build another V-shaped wall parallel to the existing Vietnam Memorial. Viewed from above, it would resemble a corporal's chevron, visually driving home the parallels between the two wars. --EFP