Will Afghanistan Become Obama’s Vietnam?

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson won an overwhelming victory in the presidential election and the nation waited for passage of legislation that would usher in another New Deal. Unfortunately, Johnson allowed himself to get side tracked by the Vietnam conflict which had originated in decisions made by a Republican president. Fast forward to 2009, and one must question whether Barack Obama is poised to repeat the Johnson error. The new president has agreed to send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan which will raise the total number to about 60,000. Great Britain, the nation having the next largest number at 9,000, is not that interested in any further increases in troop size. Most NATO nations are considering reducing, not increasing troop sizes.

Christopher Langton, of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, notes, “with other NATO members already planning to scale back, the US would find itself isolated. Rather than being an international operation, it would become another coalition of the willing,” which, in effect, would mean another American operation.

Since American troops will now constitute the largest segment of foreign troops in Afghanistan, it stands to be an American will command this group. This will transform Afghanistan into an “American war.” In so doing, it will become Obama’s worst nightmare.

The solution lies in two areas– involving Muslim nations in the struggle, and a political solution that will not initially be in accord with American foreign policy aims.