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March 20, 2009

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Many years ago during a cold war while the US engaged in an unpopular Vietnam War I was a part of a team that looked at the way both superpowers "fought" each other. One of the many lessons of that study was that to win a war one must be able to militarily engage the enemy wherever they are, allowing no safe haven to exist, and economically, support the war with an advantage over the other party. In Vietnam safe haven existed for the enemy virtually everywhere: Cambodia, Thailand, North Vietnam and China. And, economically, we were at a disadvantage to both the Chinese and the Soviets in trying to suppoort the war effort long term. These two conditions prolonged the war until the American people had given up. Ironically, it looked just like the Korean conflict but we had not learned from that experience.

Years later the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and the USA reversed the tables on them by supporting the Afghanistan fighters (including Bin Laden) both militarily and economically from Pakistan. Eventually the same strategy outlasted the Soviets and they gave up and returned to a weakened economy and discouraged people.

It appeared we had at last learned the lesson. But, here we are engaging an enemy once again in two locations: Iraq and Afghanistan under the same conditions: safe havens for the enemy on many sides and an economical disadvantage to the enemy's supporters. Iraq is neighbored by Iran and Syria who are no friends to US forces. Afghanistan is still bordered by a Pakistan reluctant to let US forces clear out the enemy or occupy the space. The supporters of the Taliban and Al Queda are Muslim radicals who occupy the entire region surrounding the war zone.

Now enter a President who on one hand increases the US commitment to the war in Afghanistan while trying to withdraw from Iraq and at the same time "reaches out" for a new beginning to the main supporter of radicals throughout the region, Iran. His message is rediculous: Restore good relations with the US while we fight wars against your radical friends on both your borders and remember that we are staunch supporters of your sworn enemy, Israel.
What can that message possibly do except set the US up for being led down the same negotiations that led to our capitulation in Vietnam and our 57 year stalemate in Korea--you note we are still there and a bankrupt dicatorship remains in power developing missiles and nuclear weapons supported by our financial partner: China.
Note: Since China is now holding Trillions in US Treasuries we have now mixed our military and economic foreign policy with our economic domestic policy.

The US must decide what it stands for and what is in it's national interest. This President seems confused. GWB was not. GWB sees an enemy determined to defeat the US economically. And by doing that the military will be negated. Never in our history have we been so vulnerable. As weak as our country is financially, think what will happen if we are hit again like 9-11 or worse in some financial way.
All the US enemies and competitors are testing this President: Russia, Venezulea and Cuba are testing the Monroe Doctrine. China is "wondering " about the credability of the T Bill. Iran is laughing off the overtures. North Korea continues missile tests. More will come. Russia is still run by the KGB turned politicians. China is still communist. Al Queda and the Taliban still engage us militarily. Cuba and Venezulea continue to find ways to irritate us.
Joe Biden was added to the team to provide his foreign policy experience--so where is he at a time the nation needs some guidance?
Working on satisfying the President's promises to the nation's unions. Obama needs help and we can only hope that he finds it soon in the counsel of Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. Or, he could reach across the aisle and get help from John McCain. Remember bipartisan leadership?

Bill – It’s not surprising to me that our assessment of this tragedy is so similar. Your comments were far more eloquent than mine could ever be, but the history of Afghanistan is well known. The parallels with Viet Nam are chilling. (Your references to Kipling remind me so much of Bernard Fall who wrote extensively on the French and American experience in Indo China (The Street Without Joy, Hell in a Very Small Place, etc.) In both, we invaded a country that another well-financed and equipped nation had only recently abandoned and learned nothing from their experience. In both cases, we had only limited national interest. In both cases, we had a president with no military experience (I’m referring to Johnson, not Kennedy. Don’t know what he would have done but Cuba was probably a clue). In both cases it would have or will require holding territory to succeed (read many more troops than we can possibly field), against an enemy that will die willingly in huge numbers ( now it's one suicide bomber at a time) fighting a foreign invader that measures progress, or lack thereof only in troops lost. And finally, both situations defied any chance of a quick, Panama-type operation that would placate an American public whose mantra is ‘instant gratification.’ I’m not sure what Obama has in mind. Perhaps a ‘show’ to erase any images of how truly inexperienced he is in military matters. It certainly has nothing to do with Bin Laden, who is most likely in a cave in Pakistan. Maybe he’s just trying to divert our attention for the impending economic meltdown.

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