A Tale of Two Quagmires
This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers looked back some four decades to his experience as a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s administration. At the time, Johnson made a series of fateful decisions to escalate the war in Vietnam, where eventually over two million American military personnel would serve. Estimates indicate that nearly 60,000 U.S. troops – and more than a million Vietnamese – were killed during the course of the conflict.
With an eye on President Obama’s deliberations on whether to deploy more U.S. troops in addition to the 68,000 already in Afghanistan, Moyers presented a montage of recorded conversations and his personal memories of President Lyndon Johnson’s decisions to escalate the war in Vietnam. He said:
“Our country wonders this weekend what is on President Obama’s mind. He is apparently about to bring months of deliberation to a close and answer General Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan. When he finally announces how many, why, and at what cost, he will most likely have defined his presidency, for the consequences will be far-reaching and unpredictable. As I read and listen and wait with all of you for answers, I have been thinking about the mind of another President – Lyndon B. Johnson. I was 30 years old, a White House assistant, working on politics and domestic policy. I watched and listened as LBJ made his fateful decisions about Vietnam... Barack Obama is not Lyndon Johnson, Afghanistan is not Vietnam and this is now, not then. The situation is different. But listen – and you will hear echoes and refrains that resonate today.”
The nation is divided about America’s mission in Afghanistan. In a new WASHINGTON POST – ABC News poll, 55% of respondents expressed confidence that President Obama will pick a strategy that will work, but 52% said that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting given the costs versus the benefits.
What do you think?