Tomorrow, we are told, Barack Obama will announce his decision on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. He has been pressured by the generals, and those of a more right wing persuasion, to vastly increase those numbers. As I’ve previously posted, there is increasing disquiet within the USA about this campaign. But, as with Vietnam, those who speak out to warn of the futility of the adventure get heard too late, if at all.
Adding his voice to the calls for sanity today has been Michael Moore, who has pointed up the mistakes of the British, and then the USSR, in trying to pacify Afghanistan. But Moore omits one name from his analysis: that of Lyndon Johnson.
Johnson was elected President in 1964 in a landslide, and his Republican opponent Barry Goldwater was portrayed as a warmonger. Soon after, more troops were sent to Vietnam and the bombing of the North started. Unlike previous wars, Vietnam, with all the horrors of modern warfare, was captured by the TV cameras and the images broadcast into millions of homes across the western world. Johnson’s reforms, his “Great Society”, counted for nothing.
Eugene McCarthy declared not only his opposition to the war, but his candidacy for the Presidency: his success in early Primaries precipitated the end of the bombing and Johnson’s refusal to run for re-election. Moreover, the spectre of Vietnam split the Democratic Party, and let in Nixon. The parallel with Afghanistan will not be lost on today’s Democrats.
So what is it to be? My suspicion is that Moore’s pleas are in vain.