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Sunday, February 08, 2009

No Wonder He Didn't Get Secretary of State

Try as he might, John Kerry can't help but see a new Vietnam in Afghanistan.

Here are his comments during the confirmation hearing for Hillary Clinton, who got the job Kerry wanted and has always been eager to send in more troops:

I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would not see all of our conflicts, ground operations, in the context of Vietnam. I really try hard. I have an automatic check that says, you know, not everything is that.

But I have to tell you, in the several visits I have now made, escape it as I might, the parallels just really keep leaping out in so many different ways. We are struggling to fight with and for a people of a different culture, different language, different custom, different history, different religion, if any. And all of those similarities exist.

We don't live there. We don't live in the community in a hamlet, in a small town, pocket, whatever you want to call it. And so, we are not there often at night. They are. And the night often rules, with insurgencies. . . .

And I think, unless we rethink this very, very carefully, we could raise the stakes, invest America's reputation in a greater way, as well as our treasure, and wind up pursuing a policy that is, frankly, unpursuable, unachievable. . . .

I think anybody who has really traveled on the ground, listened in the right ways and not just accepted the sort of briefing culture, will suggest to you respectfully, Madame Secretary, this really has to be rethought very, very carefully. Our original goal was to go in there and take on al-Qaida. It was to capture or kill Osama bin Ladin. It was not to adopt the 51st state of the United States. It was not to try to impose a form of government, no matter how much we believe in it and support it. But that is the mission, at least as it is being defined today.


Blogger Mark said...

Interesting historical reflection. We of course need to be wary of historical analogies. But if history is to mean anything and not just be a series of inexplicable, random events, then comparisons present themselves and must be allowed for discussion on those terms.

A systematic account of the similarities between Vietnam and Afghanistan would include something like the broad judgement that Kerry is making here, although an historian might have cause to be somewhat more cynical about our true objectives in the region.

3:23 PM  

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