I’m afraid the President, who seems like a supremely rational being, is trying to find the most rational policy option on Afghanistan, without thinking about whether it is feasible given political conditions on the ground, as well as who is going to implement it and how. What seems the most rational option here could be likely unworkable over there.This is part of what happened to President Johnson during Vietnam. He relied exclusively on policy ‘experts’ who understood military and geopolitical strategy in the light of World War II and Korea, but who had no direct experience combating a ‘people’s war,’ while underestimating the North Vietnamese and misunderstanding the importance of the South Vietnamese, who were treated as bystanders....
The outcome of the Afghan struggle is ultimately going to be determined not by our unilateral actions or geopolitical moves, but by whom the Afghan people wind up supporting, even reluctantly. Vietnam—Lesson One.
Needless to say, I'll be picking up a copy of "Why Vietnam Matters" in the very near future. In the meantime, all of you should check out this past week's Frontline special entitled Obama's War. For those of you who lack a proper understanding of the facts on the ground, like me, it does a great job of explaining both the counterinsurgency argument (spoiler alert: apparently a proper counterinsurgency would take ~600,000 troops) and why that approach may not make any sense in Afghanistan.
Full video embedded below.