In terms of Afghanistan Could become Obama’s Vietnam, confirms The New York Times

PRESIDENT Obama had not even taken office before supporters were etching his likeness onto Mount Rushmore as another Abraham Lincoln or the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Yet what if they got the wrong predecessor? What if Mr. Obama is fated to be another Lyndon B. Johnson instead?

To be sure, such historical analogies are overly simplistic and fatally flawed, if only because each presidency is distinct in its own way. But the L.B.J. model — a president who aspired to reshape America at home while fighting a losing war abroad — is one that haunts Mr. Obama’s White House as it seeks to salvage Afghanistan while enacting an expansive domestic program.

Just as Mr. Johnson believed he had no choice but to fight in Vietnam to contain communism, Mr. Obama last week portrayed Afghanistan as the bulwark against international terrorism. “This is not a war of choice,” he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their convention in Phoenix. “This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.”

However, after almost eight years, the U.S. people’s support for the war in Afghanistan has declined dramatically. Last week, The New York Times and CBS News published a survey showing that popular support for the war now stands at less than 50%.

That growing disenchantment in the countryside is increasingly mirrored in Washington, where liberals in Congress are speaking out more vocally against the Afghan war and newspapers are filled with more columns questioning America’s involvement. The cover of the latest Economist is headlined “Afghanistan: The Growing Threat of Failure.”

Lt. Col. Douglas A. Ollivant, a retired Army officer who worked on Iraq on the National Security Council staff first for George W. Bush and then for President Obama, said Afghanistan may be “several orders of magnitude” harder. It has none of the infrastructure, education and natural resources of Iraq, he noted, nor is the political leadership as aligned in its goals with those of America’s leadership.

“We’re in a place where we don’t have good options and that’s what everyone is struggling with,” Colonel Ollivant said. “Sticking it out seems to be a 10-year project and I’m not sure we have the political capital and financial capital to do that. Yet withdrawing, the cost of that seems awfully high as well. So we have the wolf by the ear.”

And as L.B.J. discovered, the wolf has sharp teeth. Y como Lyndon B. Johnson descubrió, el lobo tiene los colmillos afilados. (Published in The New York Times. Summary by CubaDebate)

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