Is the Vietnam War an echo of the Afghanistan War?

Bill Moyers wonders, as we all do, if Obama’s escalation of the Afghanistan War is a repetition of LBJ’s escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964.

War Memories

Our country wonders this weekend what is on President Obama’s mind. He is apparently, about to bring months of deliberation to a close and answer General Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan. When he finally announces how many, why, and at what cost, he will most likely have defined his presidency, for the consequences will be far-reaching and unpredictable. As I read and listen and wait with all of you for answers, I have been thinking about the mind of another president, Lyndon B. Johnson.

I was 30 years old, a White House Assistant, working on politics and domestic policy. I watched and listened as LBJ made his fateful decisions about Vietnam. He had been thrust into office by the murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963– 46 years ago this weekend. And within hours of taking the oath of office was told that the situation in South Vietnam was far worse than he knew.

Less than four weeks before Kennedy’s death, the South Vietnamese president had himself been assassinated in a coup by his generals, a coup the Kennedy Administration had encouraged.

South Vietnam was in chaos, and even as President Johnson tried to calm our own grieving country, in those first weeks in office, he received one briefing after another about the deteriorating situation in Southeast Asia.

Lyndon Johnson secretly recorded many of the phone calls and conversations he had in the White House. In this broadcast, you’re going to hear excerpts that reveal how he wrestled over what to do in Vietnam. There are hours of tapes and the audio quality is not the best, but I’ve chosen a few to give you an insight into the mind of one president facing the choice of whether or not to send more and more American soldiers to fight in a far-away and strange place.

Granted, Barack Obama is not Lyndon Johnson, Afghanistan is not Vietnam and this is now, not then. But listen and you will hear echoes and refrains that resonate today.

[Click to continue reading Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS]

Transcript here, and video here

The exact circumstances are different, but what the fuck is Obama doing? What’s the end game of escalation of the war? Will the Taliban ever throw their hands up and walk away? No, they will not, and even if they do, there is a thousand other offshoots of fundamentalists willing to step into the breach and fight The Great Satan. Are we as a country committed to staying permanently in Afghanistan? In Iraq? In Pakistan? At what cost? Can we afford to piss away trillions of dollars of our national budget protecting the interests of a few? What benefit to our nation does continuing the Afghanistan conflict actually accomplish?

As LBJ repeatedly says, sometimes you have to let the dominoes fall.

2 thoughts on “Is the Vietnam War an echo of the Afghanistan War?

  1. Paul Marion says:

    We were winning in Vietnam. The people of SouthVietnam refused communism. In the end only by conventional war did NorthVietnam conquer the South, right when the US Congress forbade any US money, troops or aid going to SVN. Luckily, no more Asian countries flirted with communism after seeing how horrible the Vietnam communist experience meant for Indochina. For the last 45 years Islam has invagled itself into conquest position of the West, by planned immgration into the West which according to the Quran is the primary means of conquest. Secondary means of conquest is actual war. The entire non-Muslim world is called by Muslim dar el Harb, the world under Islamic conquest. Muslims taught me this, they also said Islam needs to conquer the world before their Messiah comes, that is their quest. No matter what we do, we will suffer under this Islamic aegis until we defeat them or they win. This has repeated itself for thousands of years. Europe has nearly been conquered twice in history.

  2. We were winning in Vietnam.

    Really? Respectfully don’t agree. How long could we have sustained the South Vietnamese govt? and at what cost? Civil wars are unwinnable: do you think Britain could have won the American Revolutionary War if Parliament would have just kept paying for soldiers? Doubtful.

    Not sure about your other point either, Europe has been invaded more than twice, and certainly conquered more than twice. What is Islamic Aegis? My dictionary defines aegis as:

    An aegis (pronounced /ˈiːdʒɨs/), from Greek αιγίς, is a large collar or cape worn in ancient times to display the protection provided by a high religious authority or, it is the holder of a protective shield signifying the same, such as a bag-like garment that contained a shield. Sometimes the garment and the shield are merged, with a small version of the shield appearing on the garment. It originally was derived from the protective shield associated with a religious figure when related in myths and images. The wearing of the aegis and its contents show sponsorship, protection, or authority derived from yet a higher source or deity. The name has been extended to many other entities, and the concept of a protective shield is found in other mythologies, while its form varies across sources.

    The concept of doing something “under someone’s aegis” now means doing something under the protection of a powerful, knowledgeable, or benevolent source. The word aegis is identified with protection by a strong force with its roots in Greek mythology and adopted by the Romans; there are parallels in Norse mythology and in Egyptian mythology as well, where the Greek word aegis is applied by extension.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.